2018 Volleyball Season Preview

Posted on August 30th, 2018 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – One season removed from the program’s first NCAA regional championship and an appearance at the national quarterfinals, the Gustavus volleyball team has turned the page and is embarking on a monumental milestone as it celebrates its 50th season this year. Excitement is building for the anniversary celebration, which will take place Sept. 22, as alumni, family, and friends of the program will celebrate a proud history of Gustavus volleyball.

“It’s pretty incredible to look back at the record books to see where those teams were early on,” said Head Coach Rachelle Sherden, who is in her ninth season at the helm. “Our numbers are growing for our 50th celebration and its building a lot of excitement. When the 1975 “Gustie Bees” came back for their 40th anniversary a few years back, that was one of the coolest moments I’ve experienced with all the amazing stories they shared about how far female athletics has come. The alums of this program put things into perspective for the current team and I think that makes them even more prideful to wear the black and gold.”

The 2018 Gusties enter the season with a target on their back, voted No. 1 in the MIAC Preseason Coaches Poll and No. 7 in the AVCA Preseason Poll, which marks the highest national ranking in program history.

“We really emphasize that what we did last year does not matter for this season,” Sherden said. “This is a new group and there are new challenges. We don’t want to ride the coattails of last season, but the team does have big goals this year and they know they have to now work harder because of the high expectations they set for themselves.”

The Gusties return a veteran group that has experienced a wealth of success in the past three seasons, having posted an overall record of 77-18 since 2015. Two-time All-American and MIAC Player of the Year Nora Holtan (Sr., Rochester, Minn.) will once again quarterback the offense as the team’s setter. A true all-around volleyball player, Holtan last season recorded 1,180 assists, 349 digs, 168 kills, and 34 blocks.

Fellow seniors Brittany Luethmers (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Hanna Albers (St. Louis, Mo.) return as All-Conference performers. Luethmers was also named MIAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year after tallying a team-high 605 digs. Albers was a consistent presence on the outside last season having produced 365 kills (3.12 per set), along with 305 digs. Lauren Hanson (Sr., Redwood Falls, Minn.) was an All-Conference member in 2016 and last season recorded 285 kills, which was third most on the team. Sam Haugen (Sr., Becker, Minn.) and Kristie Tunheim (Sr., Orono, Minn.) round out the senior class.

“This senior class is an extraordinary group of hard workers and they are very committed to the program,” Sherden said. “They have a very high standard for themselves and they’ve set the tone in preseason for what they want to see throughout the year. They are all humble and hungry to be better than last year.”

2017 AVCA Central Region and MIAC Rookie of the Year Kate Holtan (So., Rochester, Minn.) is the top returning attacker after posting a team-high 393 kills (3.36 per set) last season with a .244 hitting percentage. She also tallied 184 digs and 56 blocks, while playing in all 117 sets.

The turnover from last season is minimal with the loss of four regular contributors and the addition of three first-years. This season’s squad features 19 student-athletes, 16 of which are returners.

“Since we have a small first-year class this year, it feels we have been able to get everybody up to speed with our fundamentals and training quicker than we have in years past because we have a good number of returners who know what to expect,” Sherden said. “We measure our growth and performance by meeting and beating the high standards that the coaches and the team has set for themselves in and out of the gym every day. When they focus on achieving those standards of the process and not external expectations and outcomes then the results take care of themselves.”

The Gusties start the season this weekend with four matches at the Trinity National Invitational in San Antonio, Texas. Their home and MIAC opener is Sept. 12 against Hamline.

GUSTAVUS ROSTER

GUSTAVUS SCHEDULE

2017 STATS

 

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