2005 WWU Volleyball Preview
July 27, 2005
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - In the 1980s, there was the New Wave, a transformation in popular music. Two decades later, there's a new wave on the Western Washington University women's volleyball roster.
The Vikings, who were 18-7 a year ago and finished second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference at 14-4 after winning three consecutive conference titles, have five freshmen on the roster, and five sophomores as well.
The turnover presents a new challenge for coach Diane Flick (6th year, 113-26), who enters the season with the best winning percentage in school history (.813), ranking seventh among active coaches nationally in NCAA Division II, and is just 20 wins short of tying the mark for most victories in school history.
"The biggest question we face is how quickly our young players can get acclimated and what they can bring to the table right away," Flick said. "They need to have an immediate impact."
Leading the way for Western on a team otherwise comprised entirely of freshmen and sophomores are three seniors - setter Kristen Urdahl (Spokane/Ferris), outside hitter Jamie Petersen (Kent/Kentwood), and right-side hitter Krystal Knight (Sumner).
"We have good leadership," said Flick. "They know what it's like to be on top, and they want to leave a legacy of carrying on that tradition."
Petersen has started the last two seasons. A year ago, she averaged 2.45 kills and 3.00 digs a game, and was a GNAC Academic all-star.
"She has a wealth of experience, and she brings elements that other teams have a hard time preparing for," Flick said of Petersen. "She's a solid ball-control player, very quick defensively, and as a hitter, she's very hard to block."
Urdahl ranked eighth nationally in assists at 13.39 a game, and also contributed 2.06 digs.
"Kristen has a lot of the things you look for in a setter," said Flick. "One of her big strengths is set location. The hitters know where the ball will be placed, which gives them a lot of confidence."
Knight was a starter for much of last season, averaging 1.75 kills, 2.58 digs and 0.49 blocks, with the final number ranking eighth in the GNAC.
"Krystal has had her best off-season of training," Flick said. "She has explosiveness, she can physically bring things at the net that can be a real asset for us."
The other regular returnee is libero Courtney Schneider (Snohomish), who was the GNAC Freshman of the Year and a second-team league all-star a year ago. Schneider ranked 13th nationally in digs at 5.91 a game, and her 532 total digs were the top mark in the GNAC.
"She makes the court smaller for the rest of our team," Flick said of Schneider. "Her innate ability to make reads and cover ground is immense."
Two other sophomores saw extensive action last season. Outside hitter Jaime Anderson (SeaTac/Mount Rainier) had 98 kills in 63 games. Middle blocker Lindsey Signer (Stanwood), who could also play on the right side, finished the year strongly, ending up with 45 kills and 16 blocks in 51 games.
Freshman Tiana Roma (Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway), who redshirted last year, is likely to start at middle blocker.
"She'll anchor our middles," Flick said of Roma. "It will take some time to get her feet wet, but she'll come along quickly."
Completing the roster are four true freshmen - middle blocker/outside hitter Angie Alvord (Lynden/Meridian), outside hitter Shanley Besett (University Place/Curtis), middle blocker Marissa Hill (North Bend/Mount Si) and right side/outside hitter Sarah Primrose (Issaquah).
"All four have significant athletic ability and a good foundation of skills," Flick said of the freshman group. "But with freshman it is always about how quickly and smoothly we assimilate them to the team."
The Vikings face an almost immediate test to open the season, traveling to Florida for the Berry University Invitational on Aug. 26-27 and facing the host Buccaneers, the defending NCAA II National Champions, twice in two days. The following week, Western faces a number of the top teams in the Pacific Region of NCAA II at the Seattle Pacific University Invitational.
"The whole point is that this group needs to see where we need to end up," Flick said. "You don't do that by scheduling `wins.' You do it by playing top teams, so the players know where they have to go. The wins and losses don't scare me, it's the experience that matters."
Eight teams in the Pacific Region qualify for the regional of the NCAA National Tournament, including the GNAC champion. But Flick isn't measuring success through victories or post-season berths.
"If I look at a video of Florida, and a video of our last match of the regular season, I want to see two different teams."
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|