MOORHEAD, Minn. (8/29/11)– Not much has changed for the Concordia volleyball team since they last left the court in the NCAA Tournament in November. The Cobbers return all six starting players and have everyone back from a team that went 24-7 on the year and was within one game of the MIAC regular season championship.
The two biggest reasons that head coach Tim Mosser has been looking forward to this season come in the forms of returning All-Americans Jenna Green (Sr., Dilworth, Minn./D-G-F HS) and Katie Vohnoutka (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.). Both players have been in the CC starting lineup for three years and both have been handfuls for any opposing defense to try and stop. Green led the team in kills in 2010 and was seventh in MIAC in both kills and digs. Vohnoutka was second on the team in overall kills but led the team in kills and blocks in conference play. She finished the year second in the MIAC in blocks and third in kills in league play. Green has 949 kills and 1034 digs in her three-year career and will likely become only the second player in the history of the program to surpass the 1000 kill, 1000 dig mark. Vohnoutka has 914 career kills and should become the 11th member of the 1,000-kill club in school history.
While Green and Vohnoutka will draw the most attention from opposing team’s defense, the Cobbers have several other front line players that can carry the team for an entire match. Senior Ashley Beseman (Raymond, Minn./MACCRAY HS) and sophomores Allison Bruggeman (Moorhead, Minn.) and Brooke Tastad (Montevideo, Minn.) all had over 100 kills on the year. All three players also showed the versatility that green and Vohnoutka bring to the team. Beseman was second on the team in blocks in 2010 while Bruggeman was third on the team in blocks and fourth in digs.
The Cobbers will also return their offensive quarterback and defensive specialist. Three-year starter Amy Sykora (Rapid City, S.D./Stevens HS) has posted 700-assist seasons the past two years and has 2,075 helpers in her career. She is third on the school’s all-time assist list and should jump into the second spot during the season. Sophomore Rachel Wiinanen (Maple Grove, Minn.) stepped into the libero role last year and had over 325 digs in her first season.
Mosser has also started the task of restocking the cupboards for next year as he brought in five freshmen that will all learn from their experience of playing with a group that has remain intact for two straight years.
Concordia will start the season with another target on its back. The Cobbers are one of only two teams in the MIAC to be ranked in the top 15 in the AVCA preseason poll. CC will have plenty of opportunity to show they belong among the nation’s elite. Concordia will travel to four top-tier tournaments during the regular season and will face four teams ranked in the top of the 13 of the nation. The pinnacle of tough competition will come at the Colorado College Invitational where they will face two-time national champion Juniata (Pa.) as well as Washington University (Mo.) who is ranked third in the preseason poll and advanced to last year’s NCAA semifinals as well as host Colorado College who starts the season ranked No.13.
If Concordia can be successful during their tough non-conference schedule then by the end of October they should be able to set their sights on a MIAC championship and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
2011 MIAC Coaches’ Preseason Poll
1. Concordia (8) – 117
2. St. Thomas (3) – 106
3. St. Olaf (1) – 94
4. Saint Benedict – 92
5. Saint Mary’s – 81
6. Bethel – 75
7. St. Catherine – 49
8. Augsburg – 45
9. Carleton – 42
10. Gustavus – 37
11. Hamline – 33
12. Macalester – 15