2000 Volleyball Outlook
July 27, 2000
Although last season may have been the most anticipated season of volleyball at TU, the excitement level for the 2000 season is even higher.
"I am looking forward to our 2000 season," said TU head coach Matt Sonnichsen. "Each season has seen us develop as a team. We have made such huge strides in the two years that I have been at TU, and we want to continue this strong improvement. "
With 11 of 12 players returning from last year's squad, the 2000 team looks to lead the TU program into a new direction in the new millennium and that direction is up.
The roster will be one of balanced experience, as three seniors will lead the team, as well as five juniors and four sophomores. There are 18 TU letters earned by the returnees this season.
"In 1999 we had such a young squad. When you have 8 of your 12 student-athletes as underclassmen and only one senior, there are some trying days," said Sonnichsen. "The freshmen all saw extensive playing time and we feel that will pay dividends for us during the 2000 season. We had a solid spring and we were able to get a bit of a head start on the fall, with all 12 athletes returning. If we take advantage of our opportunities, I know we can put together the best record in over 25 years!"
Senior outside hitter Kristien Van Lierop returns to add to her already record-setting numbers. She led the squad in almost every offensive category, including attacks (1,034), kills (382), service aces (29) and digs (294). Last season, Van Lierop broke career school records for kills (1,101), attacks (2,869), digs (955) and service aces (103). She is currently third on the all-time charts for hitting percentage (.236) and assists (1,161).
"This is the one position that we have the most depth at and is the most competitive," said Sonnichsen. "Kristien is a great competitor who loves to play and is always ready to battle."
Karen Vorraa is the other senior who will return for her fourth season of play. Vorraa has seen action in 264 games at TU with 312 career kills, including a career high of 108 last season. She entered the season with only 24 total career blocks, but doubled her total with 32 total blocks last season. Still learning the outside hitter position, Vorraa was used mostly as defensive specialist her first two seasons.
"Karen saw significant playing time in 1999 and had some great matches," said Sonnichsen. "She missed all of the spring season to have surgery to correct a bone spur in her knee, so we look forward to having her back at full strength."
Kara Hidinger will help lead an experienced group of juniors as well. An outside hitter, Hidinger nearly doubled her output from the 1998 season. Her 126 kills placed her third on the team, as did her 35 assists. Her 18 service aces and 168 digs also placed her third on the squad in those categories as well.
"After a slow start, Kara ended the 1999 season strong. She developed her attack and significantly raised her hitting percentage late in the year. She is a high energy player who is becoming a team leader," said Sonnichsen.
Erin Carlisle returns with the most experience of the sophomores, seeing action in 65 games. She had a season-high eight kills, nine digs and two blocks at home against UTEP. She finished the season third on the squad in total blocks with 33.
"Erin had an interesting freshman year," said Sonnichsen. "She saw significant court time and had feast or famine matches, which is typical for a freshman. She has the potential to be our best passer and worked hard in the spring on developing her hitting consistency."
Amber Martin and Tammy Leuer compose the sophomore class. Martin saw action in 61 games, averaging 1.39 digs per contest. Martin's best match of the season came against Texas-Pan American when she had a .600 hitting percentage and seven digs. Leurer played in 65 games, finishing the season with 141 digs. Her 2.17 digs per game was the fourth best on the squad last season. She had a season-high 18 digs against UTPA, which followed a seven-kill, 10-dig performance against Northeastern.
"Amber gave us flexibility in our roster, playing both outside and middle. She gained a starting position during the spring season," said Sonnichsen. "Tammy started a few matches last season, but saw most of her action in the back row. She had a good spring that saw her improve her attack and I am looking forward to watching her challenge for a starting position."
Fellow senior Shannon Smith comes back from an injury hampered season that still saw her finish with 846 assists, including five 50+ matches. She was also second on the team in block assists (45) and in digs (211).
"Shannon had the stability for a 5-1 offense, that we did not have during the 1998 season," said Sonnichsen. "Even with missing a few games with an injury, she had a great 1999 season."
LeeAnn McLaughlin returns as the No. 2 setter, behind Smith. She finished the 1999 campaign with 163 assists in 32 games and also had a .220 hitting percentage. She was shifted to the setter position after coming to TU as an outside hitter.
"LeeAnn continues to improve in a new position. When Shannon went down last year, LeeAnn did a great job stepping in and keeping this team competitive," said Sonnichsen. "After a minor back injury this spring season, we look forward to her being 100 percent this fall."
Junior Ashley Froggé, transferred to TU from Texas Tech, and saw considerable playing time immediately. She was number four on the squad in kills (116) and had a career-high of 12 kills on 37 attacks against UTEP.
"Having only three athletes in the middle, makes us a little thin at this position," said Sonnichsen. "Ashley has made great strides as a middle and put together a solid spring."
After welcoming six newcomers to the team in 1999, the Golden Hurricane had room for only one new member. They found that member in Anna Nedderman, a 6-1 middle blocker from Grapevine, Texas.
Nedderman transfers from Georgia Tech, where she saw action in 105 of the Yellow Jackets 112 games. Her 1.49 blocks per game was the 16th best average in the nation, with her 147 block assists being the eighth most in the nation. She led the ACC in blocks per game as well. In two seasons with Georgia Tech, she amassed a career hitting percentage of .239 and a blocks per game average of 1.39 in 128 games.
A member of the Dean's List at Georgia Tech, Nedderman won the team's Best Practice Player Award as a freshman.
"We were very impressed with Anna's court intensity and overall abilities. She will have a huge impact upon our 2000 season," said Sonnichsen.
Brooke Chrisman saw the least amount of action of the middle blockers, but still played in 21 games.
"After being slowed last spring by knee surgery, she has worked in the weight room and we feel she can have an outstanding sophomore season," added Sonnichsen.
This season will include a nice mix of new faces and old places. The University of Nevada, a NCAA tournament participant last season, is now included in the standard WAC schedule of perennial powers such as Hawai'i, Fresno State and San Jose State .
The Golden Hurricane's non-conference slate includes trips to New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky and South Texas.
"Our athletes are in a great position because we play against a broad variety of volleyball styles," added Sonnichsen.
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