2021 Spring Volleyball Season Preview

Posted on April 10th, 2021 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – After not having a traditional fall season due the pandemic, the Gustavus volleyball team is set to begin its truncated spring season Sunday afternoon at Concordia.

The Gusties return 15 players from their 2019 roster, which posted a 14-15 overall record and 7-4 mark in the MIAC. Rachelle Sherden is in her 11th season as the head coach, but is on maternity leave for the spring season, elevating assistant coach Alyssa Taylor to the acting head coach.

“The gym has been extremely competitive,” Taylor said. “After having a weird fall where only our first years and a couple upperclassmen were on campus at first and then practicing in pods once the whole team arrived, our girls were more than ready to practice as a full team this spring. Some of them hadn’t had the opportunity to play with each other much this fall with the pods, so it was fun to see them all come together this spring and start forming those relationships on and off the court more.”

The three seniors have been looked upon to lead the team in their own unique ways. Hailey Embacher (Mankato), Kate Holtan (Rochester), and Ellie Anderson (St. Paul) are embarking on their fourth season on the team. Embacher has been a steady presence on the back line as a defensive specialist, accumulating 737 career digs (3.3 per set) along with 90 assists and 53 service aces. Holtan, a three-time AVCA All-America honorable mention, ranks eighth in program history with 1,177 career kills and holds the program record with 3.5 kills per set. She also has 923 career digs, ranking 11th in program history. Anderson has been a role player off the bench, appearing in 43 career matches.

“Ellie, Hailey, and Kate have stepped up not only as leaders, but as mentors to our younger players and they are all a great compliment to one another,” Taylor said. “Ellie brings a lighthearted presence to practice, Hailey is a doer and servant leader to her core, and Kate is a leader by example with well thought out observations. It’s been really neat to see many of the other returners problem solve, offer guidance and push one another. They’ve really grasped onto creating the environment and culture that they want and hold each other accountable to the standards that we have set as a team.”

Along with Holtan, Sarah Elliott (So., Lombard, Ill.), Rhyan Hermann (So., Brownton), Annalee Olson-Sola (Jr., Northfield), and Sydney Olson (So., Willmar) return as major contributors on the attack in 2019. Elliott and Herrmann posted over 200 kills each, averaging 2.14 and 2.16 kills per set, respectively. Olson-Sola averaged 1.78 kills while Olson posted 1.56 kills per set and a team-leading 61 blocks.

The Gusties have a strong group of underclassmen with eight first-years and nine sophomores.

“Our first years were able to take a crash course in Gustie volleyball the first few weeks of the fall semester since they were the only ones on campus,” Taylor said. “They picked up very quickly on how we do things and were able to almost seamlessly transition to practices with the whole team. I imagine a couple of them will have an immediate impact and look forward to seeing them in action in a Gustie jersey.”

After having its season- and home-opening match against Hamline cancelled due to COVID-19 testing protocols, as well as its exhibition against Minnesota State-Mankato, the Gusties are set for eight matches this spring. There will be no conference championship awarded and no postseason.

“Although this season is very different from what we are used to, we are so grateful to have the opportunity to compete,” Taylor said. “A big thank you to our administration, athletic trainers and all others who have spent many, many hours to put together countless plans to allow our student-athletes to safely compete. We are proud to represent Gustavus!”

2021 Spring Schedule

2021 Spring Roster


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