The Baker Orange

2015 volleyball preview

Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

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Overview

Wildcat volleyball has high expectations for the 2015 season. With nine incoming freshmen, two new sophomores and a new junior on the team, this year will be a big change from the past. One change is the team’s height. Freshman Olivia Brees at 6-3 is the tallest on the team with four other players at 6 foot or taller.

Sophomore Jenna Sackman and junior Kadie Baumgardner transferred to Baker, and teammates say their mentalities fit perfectly. Sophomore Brittney Diehm is also new to the team, but not to Baker. In her first year at Baker, Diehm played for the women’s basketball team.

Head coach Kathy Allen is excited for this new season.

“Although our team has changed, our drive hasn’t,” Allen said. “We would always say we want to qualify for nationals and with a bigger conference now it may provide more opportunities.”

Returners

The ‘Cats are led by seniors Danielle French, Shannon Bond, Natalie Minchow and Paige Meader. Last year, French finished in the top 15 in the NAIA in blocks as well as leading the team with 246 kills. Minchow finished just one shy of French in kills.

Also returning are juniors Kadie Baumgardner, Elizabeth Arnold and Haleigh Offield and sophomores Madeline McCrary, Brenna Herdman and Alisa Becker. Offield was third on the team in blocks and fourth in kills.

First games

The team opened its 2015 season in the St. Thomas University Invitational in Miami, Florida. The first three matches provided wins for the ‘Cats. Against Webber International, French had 13 kills and a .542 hitting percentage. The Wildcats also had 12 aces; four of those came from Baumgardner in her first match in a Baker uniform. Freshmen Kailin Cordes and Ashley Sparks as well as Sackman were strong contributors in the first tournament of the season.

Their single loss came from St. Thomas in the final five-set match (15-25, 25-21, 28-26, 25-27, 10-15). Baker came within a few points of winning in the fourth set but the hosts bounced back to take the fourth and knocked off Baker in the final set. Sophomore Alisa Becker said she was happy with the team’s performance and also enjoyed the chance to bond with all the women in Florida.

Next up for the Wildcats is a tournament hosted by Bellevue University on Sept. 4 and 5 in Bellevue, Nebraska. Baker will match up with Maryville State and College of the Ozarks on Friday and then face William Woods and Great Falls on Saturday.

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