2017 Volleyball Season Preview

Posted on August 30th, 2017 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus volleyball team kicks-off the 2017 season this weekend, traveling to Portland and Newburg, Ore. to take part in the Oregon Trail Classic.

Gustavus opens the four-match tournament against Willamette University and Lewis & Clark College on Friday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m (eastern time). The Gusties then wrap up day two of the tournament on Saturday with match-ups against Whitworth University and George Fox University at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m (eastern time).



Head Coach Rachelle Sherden is entering her eighth season at the helm of the Gustie volleyball squad in 2017 and is joined by two new assistants in Laura Beckmann and Brianne Stamer to help build off the success from last season.

“I’m really excited about bringing two new assistants in this year and having fresh eyes with a lot of knowledge,” Sherden commented. “It has been good because it’s something that is different and sometimes things get brought up that we wouldn’t have thought of in the past, or things that we haven’t done before.”

“In early season, it is kind of about working out the kinks. These first couple tournament matches will give us an idea of where we’re at and what we need to work on,” Sherden said.

Gusties picked to finish first in MIAC

The defending Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Playoff champions were voted to finish atop MIAC 2017 standings, as voted on by MIAC coaches.

Ranked 24th in the nation by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) earlier this month, the Gusties have high expectations for the 2017 season after posting a 24-8 record, a second consecutive MIAC Playoff Championship, and the first win at the NCAA Championships since 1986 last season. 

“It is a nice honor, but our focus is going to be on what we’re doing every day, not on what polls say. This is a whole new season,” said Sherden.

Returning core

Highlighted by AVCA All-American, MIAC Player of the Year, and 2016-17 Gustavus Female Athlete of the Year in Nora Holtan (Jr., Rochester, Minn.), the Gusties return their core leaders including 14 upperclassmen while losing just two seniors from last season. Holtan led the MIAC with 1,255 assists, marking the third most single season assists by a Gustie since 1992 and surpassing the 2000-assist mark in her career, which currently ranks sixth in program history with 2,199 assists.

Lauren Hanson (Jr., Redwood Falls, Minn.) was an AVCA All-America honorable mention selection a year ago after leading the Gusties on the attack with 419 kills, averaging 3.38 per set, to go along with a .218 hitting percentage. Her 419 kills were second most in the MIAC and mark the second most single season kills by a Gustie since 1992. Hanson’s All-America Honorable Mention recognition came after receiving AVCA All-Region and MIAC All-Conference honors.

Additionally, two-time MIAC All-Conference member Brittany Luethmers (Jr., Prior Lake, Minn.) returns as the steady presence on the back line as the team’s libero. Last season, Luethmers led the Gusties and finished second in the conference with 616 digs and became the eighth player is Gustavus history to reach 1,000 career digs. She currently ranks fifth all-time with 1,136 digs.

2017 Captains, from left: Claire Laakso, Abby Leitch, Nora Holtan, Shaefer Rupar

The 2017 roster is broken down with six seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores, and seven first-years. Claire Laakso (Sr., Bemidji, Minn.), Abby Leitch (Sr., Mankato, Minn.), N. Holtan, and Shaefer Rupar (Sr., Merrill, Wis.) will captain the Gusties.

“It has been nice for me, when I’m about to say something about expectations or standards and the words are already coming out of some of our upperclassmen,” Sherden spoke of the returning leadership. “To build off the culture that way has been really nice. It has been really cool to see the girls that have contributed and had success in the past to come into the gym this fall with grit and have gotten better since last year.”



Comments are closed.