2012 WWU Volleyball Preview
Aug. 20, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - As she prepared for the 2012 Western Washington University volleyball season, Viking coach Diane Flick took a bit of time to watch the Summer Olympics.
"It's great to be in the middle of an Olympic year," said Flick (13th year, 249-70), who is the winningest volleyball coach in school history and ranks ninth nationally among active NCAA Division II active coaches with a .781 winning percentage. "You see a lot of stories about how athletes get where they have, and I saw one profile about a guy who had a tattoo on his arm that said, `Receive everything you earn.'
"It's important that we earn everything this season. We want to work on how we EARN points."
Taking on that message of earning every point is an experienced squad that returns 10 letter winners from a 2011 team that went 16-6 and finished tied for second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 14-4 mark.
Geary was a first-team all-GNAC pick and an honorable mention NCAA Division II all-American last season after being a second-team all-conference pick as a sophomore and a first-team selection as freshman.
Geary led the GNAC in kills, and ranked 15th nationally in NCAA II, averaging 4.24 a set, and also contributed 3.94 digs a set. She enters the season with 945 career kills, which ranks 11th in school history.
"Marlayna brings a wealth of experience, and my hope for her this season is that she reaps the benefits of all the effort that she has put in," Flick said. "She'll be the focus of every scouting report, and the rest of our team has to focus on alleviating the responsibility of her carrying the load."
There are a number of options to join Geary at outside hitter. Junior Kinsey Davis (Burlington/Burlington-Edison) and sophomores Emily Cotter (University Place/Curtis) and Kelsey Moore (Bellevue/Newport) all saw action there last season. Moore averaged 2.00 kills a set, Davis 1.97. Cotter, who saw more extensive action in the back row, averaged 2.29 digs. Redshirt freshman Rachel Roeder (Sammamish/Issaquah) will also compete for time.
"All of them bring different things," Flick said. "We're looking for consistency, and also termination. Which of them is going to put the ball away and have solid efficiency?"
Yearout was a second-team all-GNAC pick last year, averaging 11.20 assists, which ranked second in the GNAC and 17th nationally.
"She's like a coach on the court," Flick said of Yearout. "She understands the game and her teammates, and how to respond to different situations. That's what you want from a senior - that they have the experience to lead, especially when they're the hub of the wheel like a setter."
The other setter on the squad is sophomore Taylor Dillard (Milton/Fife). Dillard saw action in 11 matches last year as a true freshman, and has a versatile set of skills that allow her to be played in a variety of situations.
Jones is a three-year starter at middle blocker, having notched 193 kills and 170 blocks. She missed much of the last half of last season with concussion issues.
Junior Emily Boerger (Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck) started at both middle blocker and right-side hitter last season and figures to play primarily in the middle this year. She averaged 1.66 kills and 0.70 blocks, with her 121 total kills ranking third on the team.
Also back in the middle is sophomore Kayla Erickson (Gig Harbor/Peninsula) who averaged 1.79 kills and 0.77 blocks in 24 sets and had a .355 attack efficiency last season.
Redshirt freshman Jennica McPherson (Seattle/Kennedy) is likely to play on the right side.
"She's a smart hitter, and she's a lefty," said Flick. "Having a left-hander there, we can feed the ball to either antenna when we're scrambling."
In the back, sophomore Samantha Hutchinson (University Place/Curtis) returns at libero after ranking 15th nationally in digs at 5.78 a set and earning honorable mention all-GNAC status. Redshirt freshman Carmen Vasilatos (Bothell/Woodinville) will also see time as a defensive specialist.
"Samantha made great strides in the spring to get even better," said Flick. "We've had a great tradition of defensive specialists and liberos."
Freshmen Natalie Brundage (Tacoma/Curtis), Sarah Caylor (Tacoma/Stadium), Kelsey Fausko (Auburn/Auburn Mountainview), Bryce Larson (Mukilteo/Kamiak) and Raney Lepper (Deming/Mount Baker) are all expected to redshirt.
For the rest, the competition for time should be fierce.
"It's going to be a good battle for starting positions; we have a lot of people who have experience," Flick said.
WWU opens the season with tournaments at Western Oregon and Sonoma State before entering GNAC play by hosting MSU-Billings on Sept. 14.
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