Fall Preview: Volleyball
WILMORE, Ky. – One year after exiting the KIAC tournament prior to the championship game for the first time since 2006, the Eagles’ volleyball team enters the 2013 season with hopes of returning to the top of the conference.
The Eagles will be in search of just the second KIAC Conference Championship this season, a feat which was accomplished back in 2008. Asbury finished their 2012 with a conference record of 7-3 and an overall record of 27-12—the fifth straight season of 20 or more wins.
A strong core of returning players and a talented incoming class have the Eagles’ poised for another strong season under fifth year head coach JP Rader.
The 2013 season opens in Mobile, Ala., at the two-day SHC/University of Mobile Invitational on August 23 and 24. The Eagles’ home opener comes just days later on Thursday, August 29, when they play host to Bethel (Tenn.) University.
Looking back to 2012
The Eagles put together another impressive season in 2012, the fourth under head coach JP Rader.
After a 26-11 regular season, the Eagles entered the KIAC tournament as the no. 3 seed. After defeating Brescia 3-0 on Friday of the tournament, Asbury advanced to play against the no. 24-ranked Point Park Pioneers. The Eagles were edged in straight sets to fall in the semifinals, 3-0.
Senior Brittney Rader led the Eagles for much of the season as her 308 kills ranked second on the team and her 54 aces were a team high. Rader finished the season ranked fourth all-time in kills for the Eagles.
What to watch for: Attacking
For 2013, the Eagles bring back plenty of returning heavy hitters, including All-Conference and All-Region honoree Sarah Sterling, and other offensive prowess in hitters Catherine Wolter and Alyssa Downs. In all, four of the top-five hitters for the Eagles return this season.
Setters Mackenzie Burke and Jessie Bartlow return to the middle. The setting tandem of Burke and Bartlow finished the season with a combined 1431 assists overall and 10.6 assists per game. With Sterling, Wolter, Downs, and Morgan Newton all returning to the outside, the working chemistry should provide immediate dividends for the attacking core of the Eagles’ roster.
Taking into account all the returning pieces in the Eagles’ lineup it’s hard to imagine where newcomers like Rachel Boesing, Hillarie Dyck, and Amanda Olivier could improve the Eagles’ attack. But coach Rader is excited with his new additions while weighing the importance of having such a core group of returning contributors.
What to watch for: Defense
Seniors Kaity Bradley and Brittney Rader graduated—leaving some holes in the Eagles’ lineup at the net. Bradley and Rader combined for 125 total blocks on the season, nearly one full block each per game.
Morgan Newton returns as the player with the most blocks per game a season ago with 0.57. The Eagles won’t be without height up front as ten Eagles’ players measure in at five-feet, nine-inches tall or better. Allison Rehner and Katherine Wolter both break six feet and could prove difficult to hit around as the season progresses.
Kelly Cole returns to her libero position where she garnered All-Conference awards a season ago while posting a team-high 5.7 digs per game. Cole, a crucial part of the Eagles' defense for the past three seasons, currently sits second on the all-time digs list for the proram. Cari McMullen, second in digs per game a season ago, returns for her senior season for the Eagles.
Coach JP Rader enters his fifth season at the helm for the Eagles. Rader has amassed a record of 126-42, good enough for a .750 win percentage. In each of Rader’s first four season, Asbury as posted 20-plus wins and advanced to the KIAC conference finals in every season except for 2012.
Keith Stowe also returns to the sidelines for the Eagles alongside Rader. Stowe will assist Rader with the Varsity team, and will coach the JV for his fourth season.