Height and Defense. These are the two qualities that the 2013 Crusader women’s volleyball team is most excited about for this upcoming season. “We should be very strong defensively,” remarks seven year head coach Regina DeLozier. “We want to use our solid defense to help springboard our offense.” With a relatively young team (three seniors), the Crusaders will have as many as ten players on the normal playing rotation, allowing them to be very diversified in their offensive and attack options. With brand new leadership on both offense and defense, the coaching staff has seen tremendous growth from the first day of preseason to the first scrimmage in their key player’s ability to help keep the team motivated and focused. “With our incredible height this year, we should be putting out some big numbers on blocking,” says DeLozier. “Our defense will start with our block, and transition to a multi-faceted offense with multiple players contributing.”
The Crusaders will rely on several key returners that have stepped into important leadership roles for this year’s team. Seniors Laci Peterson (6’1”, Chillicothe, IL), Lauren Schulz (5’10”, Lake Mills, WI), and Erin Steuerwald (5’8”, Whitewater, WI), all seek to lead the team with both their offensive ability and defensive blocking presence. Additional height comes from junior hitter Pam Borchardt (5’10”, Watertown, WI), and sophomore hitter Stacy Reinke (5’11”, Clintonville, WI). Defensively, the Crusaders will be led by Samantha Swiatek, a 5’3” sophomore from Walled Lake, MI, who was the team’s defensive specialist last year, and has now stepped into the key defensive leadership role of libero. This year’s team also features good experience at setting, with juniors Emily Thompson (5’0”, Watertown, WI), and Pam Borchardt being capable of placing the ball where the Crusader’s offensive height can take advantage. Off the bench, juniors Kaylah Richerson (5’9”, Elmwood, IL), and Megan Rasmussen (5’2”, Watertown, WI), as well as sophomore Kelli Fox (5’7”, Matthews, NC), will provide the Crusaders with additional offensive and defensive skill.
The 2013 women’s volleyball team also welcomes six new players to this year’s roster. Starters Stacie Ross (6’0”, Wyoming, MI), and Alison Renz (6’0”, Lake Mills, WI) will provide immediate offensive talent and blocking firepower for the Crusader team. “We are very pleased to have both Stacie and Ali join our team this year,” remarks Coach DeLozier. “Both girls have tremendous height; Stacie, who was a basketball standout last year, as well as Ali, our only starting freshman, will be great additions to our team’s offense and defensive blocking.” The Crusaders will also boast two new right side hitters, sophomore Heather White (5’9”, Watertown, WI) and freshman Rachel Wells (5’9”, Danville, IL), as well as freshman setter Julia Gunst (5’8”, Neosho, WI), and freshman defensive specialist Emilee Hansel (5’2”, Watertown, WI).
With a heavy road schedule this year (a mere four home games), the Lady Crusaders look forward to facing a balanced line-up of NCCAA and NCAA DIII schools. Remarks Coach DeLozier of this year’s schedule, “Although we have only a few home games, we are very excited about a balanced, competitive schedule that will challenge and prepare us for hopefully another run through the NCCAA Regional and National tournaments. We should compete very well against the NCCAA schools, and provide a tough opponent for all the NCAA DIII schools we face.” The Crusaders will travel to face key NCCAA opponents such as Grace University (Sept. 27) and Lincoln Christian (Oct. 5), as well as host marquee match-ups with former NCAA NAC affiliates Wisconsin Lutheran College (Oct. 8) and Marian University (Oct. 29).
The goals and expectations for the 2013 women’s volleyball team will remain at a high standard. “Our theme verse for this year is Ephesians 3:17,” states DeLozier. “By being ‘rooted and grounded in love’, our desire is to become servant leaders who demonstrate our love through Christ to the teams and spectators we come in contact with. We have a court goal of winning NCCAA Regionals, and, since last year we were runners-up for the National title, it will be our goal again to compete for the championship in Lincoln, Illinois, come November.” With many young players and a team that will miss four key contributors from last year, what will be the team’s mindset for this season? “It’s simple!” remarks DeLozier, “We’re thinkin’ Lincoln!”