The Indiana University Kokomo Volleyball team is excited to kick off their 2018 season. Coming off another record-setting year and losing seven seniors to graduation, the 2018 Cougars will have a new look. With the addition of eight players, the roster will be a very young but talented team, with only five juniors and seniors.
The Cougars return one senior, All-Conference middle hitter Nicole Sandmann who was sidelined with an injury for half of the 2017 season. Mary Westover and McKenna Lundy, starters since they were freshman, return to the team and have done a great job of setting the tone and providing positive leadership all off-season. Defensive specialists Kristi Elson and Mallorie Havens also return to round out the upper-classmen.
Returning for the 2018 season are also five sophomores. Nyssa Baker, River States Conference Player of the Year and All American, returns after a stellar freshman season that ended with her leading the nation in blocking. Two-time conference defender of the week Macee Rudy returns, along with Erinn Adam, Lily Goldstein, and Sarah Morin who all saw quite a bit of time on the court as freshman.
During the spring season the Cougars added some local talent with two sophomores joining the squad. Abby Bowyer, Maconaquah High School standout setter, transferred from NCAA Division II Urbana University. Brooke Haalck, an Eastern High School graduate, also joined the roster.
The incoming freshman class is very strong and consists of six players that all have the potential to make an impact right away. This class has four pin hitters: Sydney Conger of Bloomington South HS, Morgan Weir of West Vigo HS, Alexa Roberts of Noblesville, and Molly Ottersbach of Floyd Central. Columbus East setter Kendal Williams and Jay County libero Chloé Trissel round out the freshman class.
Coach Heather Hayes stated, "I am very excited about this season. While we are very young, I like the energy, fire, and attitude this group has. Leadership from our upperclassmen will be very important to set the tone with our young players. I could see us having our ups and downs early since we have so many new faces. However, once they get to know each other, I think this team has the potential to be one of the strongest we have had at IU Kokomo."
There are 11 chances to watch the defending River States Conference Champions at home this season. They open the season against Marian University – a team who spent most of last season ranked in the top 25 at 7 p.m., August 22, at Cougar Gymnasium. They also have three home matches in September, five in October, and two in November.
The Cougars will play in four tournaments this season. Three tournaments are in the state as the team travels to Grace College in August, IU East over Labor Day Weekend, and Indiana Tech in October. The team is also traveling in September to Grand Rapids, the hometown of junior Mary Westover, to compete in the Cornerstone University tournament. It is the first time to attend this event. The Cougars will get to face some new opponents this season during these tournaments including matchups versus NAIA powerhouses Cornerstone and Madonna.
River States Conference play begins on September 15, when the Cougars host Brescia University at 1 p.m. Make sure to arrive at Cougar Gym early on August 22, for what is sure to be an exciting match as the Cougars begin their season against Marian University.
Tickets are available at the door for $5 each and a season passes can be purchased for $50. Follow along all season on Twitter @IUKVB and @IUKAthletics.