BOISE, Idaho The Boise State University volleyball team opened its 2007 season with the first day of camp, Thursday, marking the official start to head coach Robin Davis’ second season with the program.
The Broncos held their first practice at 10 a.m., and followed it up with their second practice of the day at 4 p.m. Boise State has 15 days until its season-opening match against UTSA, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. in Bronco Gym.
Below is the Broncos’ 2007 Volleyball Season Outlook...
With five of the seven starters from the 2006 Boise State University volleyball team returning for the 2007 campaign, the Broncos have experience. Of the 12 letterwinners from last season, 10 are returning, giving Boise State depth. Captains Jamie Claussen and Jeanene Rose provide solid leadership. The final element of success, talent, is present, though who amongst a crop of student-athletes is going to step up is where the fate of the season lies.
The Broncos lose two stars from the 2006 season, Cameron Flunder and Jackie Stroud, but that leaves the door wide open for a number of individuals to make their impact. Flunder is Boise State’s only four-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection since joining the conference in 2001, and Stroud, a record-setting libero, became only the third Bronco to earn All-WAC honors in the last six seasons.
“I like our players coming back, but they are absolutely going to have to put forth a team effort,” head coach Robin Davis said. “Cameron was a star and Jackie was a star her senior year. Jackie took on more of the load than any libero in the conference last season. We don’t have those players this year.”
Senior Jamie Claussen and junior Mandy Klein each registered more than 100 games in 2006, and are two of five returning starters from last season that the Broncos need to lead the way in 2007.
“Mandy needs to be a year better and we think she will be,” Davis said. “Jamie needs to be steady and she needs to start at the O2. If we have any of the returners penciled in, it would be Jamie at the O2 and Mandy at setter.”
The other positions on the court are where the Bronco squad begins to get a little cloudy.
Filling the void left by Flunder at middle blocker could be any number of starting combinations. Davis believes that if redshirt junior Robyn Hewitt and sophomore Elise Ardron can be a little more consistently strong off one foot, then they can compete with incoming freshman Sadie Maughan for the M1 position. If not, they would be competing with sophomore Kim Van Lith for the M2 job.
“We may have a freshman as our M1, which would leave three players competing for the other starting job,” Davis said. “If Sadie wins the M1 job, we’re thinking that she could be freshman of the year in the WAC; that is how highly we think of her. But you never know, it could be Kim and Elise starting at middle. We are open for any of them to step up and start.”
Sophomore Jeanene Rose will compete for the libero job, but is just one of many options for replacing Stroud. If Claussen is not hitting then she will also compete for the starting nod at the position along with senior Tiffany Starring, whom Davis says did a nice job in the back row last season. Incoming freshman Lauren Hamm will also be in the mix, with her back row skills already being college-level polished.
At outside hitter, the Broncos once again have a number of options. Claussen is expected to play the O2, and junior Jeanette Jenkins, a returning two-year starter, is expected to compete to play the O1. Transfer Maren Ericson will compete with Jenkins to be the starting O1. Another freshman, Alisha King, whom Davis calls a “legitimate 6-3 outside,” will have her shot for the two outside hitter jobs.
At right side hitter, either King, sophomore Arlee Tamietti or redshirt junior Kristen Voyson could be the steady right side hitter the Broncos need, and Davis will be looking at all three at the position.
With so many options at each position, the Broncos have a number of things to figure out before the first serve against UTSA, Aug. 24. However, once Davis finds the consistent combination he is looking for, the foundation that he laid in his first year as head coach will continue to be built upon.
“The game usually comes down to the team that can pass and serve the best,” Davis said. “We will work hard on both of those aspects of the game and look for a strong, overall team effort to equate to a successful season.”