Aug 26, 2013
The Faith volleyball team will have five returning upperclassmen including two time NCCAA All-American Julia Rocha and first time AVCA All American selection Stephanie Knupp. Joining Rocha and Knupp will be returning starters outside hitter JoJo Hodak, middle Kimberly Post and senior all around player Natalie Bunjer. Potential freshmen anticipated to add quality playing time are middle Alyssa Larson and defensive specialist Jennifer Reynolds. "We have an excellent core of players to work with and I am confident we can mold into a solid team peaking at the appropriate time," noted Nihart.
The Eagles will attempt to improve on last year's 18-14 season. Last year's season culminated in the Lady Eagles reaching the MCCC Conference Tournament and NCCAA North Central Regional championship matches. "We had an excellent year in 2012. We were the recipients of solid senior leadership and many times received the benefit of how the ball bounced. I have faith in our 2013 senior captains Julia (Rocha) and Natalie (Bunjer) and our core group that we will be competitive in both the conference and regional levels." mentioned head coach Lanny Nihart.
The Eagles will likely need to defeat reigning MCCC conference champions Manhattan to win the outright regular season and conference tournament titles. Ozark Christian College from Joplin, Missouri will also be a formidable foe as they return numerous players from a young roster one year ago. "Both Manhattan and Ozark are very competitive and well coached teams. Gaining a split with either of those teams likely could keep us from capturing the title. With our group we are going to need to concentrate on blocking due to the defensive players who graduated last year. Hopefully, not only will that yield improvements but give our backs some relief as well," noted Nihart.
Providence College will likely pose the greatest barrier to the Eagles reaching the NCCAA National Tournament held in Kissimmee, Florida in November. "Scott (Masterson) does a great job with the program at Providence. They do well in recuriting and are always a dominanting blocking and hitting team. Trinity Bible College (Ellendale, ND) and North Central University (Minneapolis, MN) will also be improved this year. It will be interesting to see how the pre-regional tournament in September plays out," remarked Nihart.
Faith will begin the 2013 campaign by hosting the annual Spikefest Tournament and will participate in two additional non-conference tournaments followed by the MCCC Conference and NCCAA regional tournaments. The 2013 schedule also has several regular season conference and non-conference matches in September and October. "We have a good schedule which should enable the opportunity for wins and team growth. We will play NAIA, NCAA Division III and NCCAA Division II schools which will require us to approach every match in a blue collar worker mentality." noted Nihart.