The 2010 Boise State volleyball team enters their second season under the helm of head coach Shawn Garus and his assistants Chris Rushing and Candy Murphy. The Broncos enter the season with high hopes after a very successful 2009 campaign where they tied for fourth in the Western Athletic Conference regular season standings and finished third at the WAC Tournament.
The Broncos hope to maintain their momentum with the return of nine veterans to the 2010 roster. Three seniors, three juniors, including this season's co-captains Breann Nesselhuf and Amanda Remy, as well as, three sophomores return from last season. They are joined by two transfers, from South Dakota State and San Diego City College, as well as, a redshirt sophomore and four freshmen. The 16-person roster touts a solid defensive corps, while adding strength and depth to the middle and outside in the front row.
"Our returners had a very productive off-season and we are excited for the start of a new season," said Garus. "The team has been working really hard with our strength coach Steve Schulz and each athlete's individual development has come along nicely."
The Broncos kick off their 32-match schedule on Friday, August 27 when they take on South Dakota State at the Air Force Tournament. The Air Force Tournament will be the first of four preseason tournaments for the Broncos this season, including two additional road tournaments at Wyoming (Sept. 10-11) and at Davidson College in North Carolina (Sept. 17-18), as well as, playing host to the Northwest Challenge Tournament featuring Boise State, Gonzaga, Portland State and top-ranked Washington.
"Top-10 Washington will be our best non-conference opponent this season," explained Garus. "The Northwest Challenge provides a huge opportunity to play three really great matches at home."
The Northwest Challenge serves as the home opener for the Broncos on Sept. 3 and 4, while the Broncos' first non-tournament home match will follow shortly after on Sept. 7 with Utah Valley visiting Bronco Gym. Boise State will face Utah Valley in Orem, Utah (Oct. 20), Weber State in Ogden, Utah (Sept. 8) and Idaho State in Boise (Oct. 5) in additional non-conference matches on the season.
The Broncos, who were picked fifth in the 2010 WAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, begin their conference play in San Jose, Calif., on Sept. 23 taking on the Spartans and wrap up their 2010 regular season facing the Spartans for a second time on Nov. 15 in Bronco Gym. The 2010 WAC Tournament will be held in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Orleans Arena Nov. 22-24.
"I like our schedule this season because we get to play in two tournaments hosted by Mountain West Conference teams early in the season, as well as, taking the players to Davidson to play against some teams we don't normally see," said Garus. "Then when we get into conference play we have the opportunity to play Hawaii who is coming off an NCAA Final Four appearance as well as New Mexico State who returns four All-WAC players and will be very good. Each conference match this season will make a big difference because there are a handful of teams in the WAC that could be fighting for that third-place spot in the conference."
The Broncos return three seniors to the roster this season, including middle blockers Sadie Maughan and Alisha Young, as well as, defensive specialist Lauren Hamm.
Garus is looking forward to using all three seniors and says, "all three seniors will be key contributors this season."
Hamm, a Coto de Caza, Calif., native enters her fourth season with the team and will continue her role as a defensive specialist. Hamm currently holds the No. 2 spot on Boise State's all-time career digs average list while also sitting at No. 8 on the all-time career total digs list. A solid server as well, Hamm led the Broncos in 2009 with 21 services aces.
"Lauren is an experienced defender and will be fighting for the libero position," said Garus. "She is also a very consistent server that we will rely on in the backrow."
A Murray, Utah native, Maughan returns as the veteran middle blocker on the team, having played the position the past three years. She was named to the 2010 WAC Pre-season All-WAC team after leading the Broncos in 2009 in points, blocks and hitting percentage. She currently sits at No. 3 on the Bronco all-time career points list, as well as, No. 8 on the career hitting percentage chart, No. 9 in career block average and No. 10 in career total blocks.
"Sadie is among the best middles in the WAC," explained Garus. "She has improved a lot in the past year and has become a more complete attacker."
Young, an American Fork, Utah native, enters her fourth season with the team and second as a middle blocker. After becoming more comfortable with her new position, Young went on to lead the team last season in kills. She currently sits at No. 5 in career points and will continue to climb the chart with more blocking and hitting opportunities in the middle.
"Alisha is our most versatile attacker," Garus said, "her strength and speed makes her very tough to stop."
The 2010 junior class welcomes three veterans, as well as, one transfer, Darlene Nwagbuo, from San Diego City College.
Garus said, "Our junior class has some of our hardest working athletes, including our team co-captains Amanda Remy and Breann Nesselhuf."
Elizabeth Griffin, a Roseville, Calif., native returns as a third-year outside hitter who could swing to the rightside position to benefit the Broncos this season. Griffin adds depth to the front row with her blocking capabilities.
"Elizabeth is a big blocker with a fast arm," said Garus. "She should be competing for time on both the outside and rightside this season."
A San Dimas, Calif., native, Amanda Remy will return to her original position this season as a libero/defensive specialist, a position she held as a freshman. In her sophomore season, Remy moved to an all-around player, serving as an outside hitter and adding front row play to her resume'.
"Amanda plays with so much intensity," Garus said, "she must be on the court at all times. With her leadership and energy, she will likely be our starting libero this season."
Breann Nesselhuf returns for her second season with the Broncos as the starting setter. Nesselhuf is a well-rounded player who not only led the Broncos in assists last season, but was also third on the team in blocks and fourth in service aces. The Swink, Colo., native returns as the only Bronco to be named to the WAC All-Tournament team last season and join Maughan and Young as 2009 All-WAC Second Team members.
Garus said, "Breann is our best athlete on the team. She has an unlimited supply of energy and enthusiasm which serves her well as the starting setter and floor captain."
The Broncos return three sophomores to the squad, as well as, add two newcomers to the sophomore class this season to help add depth to the outside and defensive positions.
"Our returnees saw a lot of action last season as true freshmen and their experience will help them as they take on bigger roles this season," explained Garus.
Liz Harden returns on the outside for the Broncos and will likely see time on the rightside as well after having successful matches at both positions last season. The Lake Forest, Calif., native was third on the team in kills last season, as well as, fourth in blocking.
"Liz is much stronger entering her sophomore year," said Garus, "and she is expected to be a consistent starter at the outside position."
A Woodway, Wash., native, Cailin Fellows enters her second season at the outside hitter position after finishing the season with the seventh-most total kills on the team.
"Cailin has great offensive skills and hits the ball really hard from anywhere on the court," said Garus. "She is expected to play at the outside position as well adding great depth to the position."
Kersti Whitney, a Coto de Caza, Calif., native, enters her second season with the Broncos in the defensive specialist position. After finishing fourth on the team in digs last season, Whitney will look to challenge for the libero spot this season.
Garus explained Whitney as, "a much more confident player entering her sophomore year. She is a top defender and should challenge for the libero position."
In addition to the nine veterans who return from the 2009 roster, the Broncos welcome seven newcomers to this season's roster. Darlene Nwagbuo, a junior, brings the most collegiate experience to the table, while sophomores Jen Visser and Fiona Jones also bring a year's worth of experience under their belts. Adding to a solid transfer class is a well-rounded freshman class including defensive specialist Kristyn Kirschenman, middle blocker Brittany Reardon, setter Casey Rose and outside/rightside hitter Leah Stevens.
"We are really excited to welcome our new players to Boise State," exclaimed Garus. "They all have the ability to help the program improve immediately. Some are great athletes and some are great players who are all expected to contribute."
A junior transfer, Darlene Nwagbuo will make an immediate impact to the team in the middle after playing two seasons in the position at San Diego City College. Standing at 6-feet tall, Nwagbuo will be a solid force as a blocker for the Broncos.
"Darlene is a middle blocker with the ability to play high over the net," explained Garus. "I expect her to be a great middle once she gets comfortable with the speed of our offense."
After joining the team in practices during the 2010 spring semester, sophomore Jen Visser gets to participate in her first official season with the Broncos. The Ignacio, Colo., native joins the Broncos with one year of collegiate experience under her belt, playing with New Mexico State during the 2008 season. She did not compete during the 2009 season and will return to the court with the Broncos in 2010, serving as a defensive specialist.
"Jen is a hard working defender who wants to do whatever it takes to make the team better," said Garus.
Fiona Jones is the third newcomer bringing in collegiate experience after playing her freshman season at South Dakota State. A Bountiful, Utah native, the sophomore will add depth to the Broncos' outside hitter position after having a successful freshman campaign at outside for the Jackrabbits.
Garus said of Jones, "we expect her to contribute right away on the outside. She is a very dynamic player that will benefit from our offensive system."
A freshman from Bakersfield, Calif., Kristyn Kirschenman will join the Broncos as a defensive specialist, helping to give depth and strength to the position.
"Kristyn is a fast defender who I feel has great potential as a defensive specialist," explained Garus. "She will be competing with some fiery players in her position, which will only make her better."
Brittany Reardon, a Stayton, Ore., native joins the Broncos for her freshman campaign, looking to make an impact at the middle blocker position. Standing at 6-foot, 1-inch, Reardon adds much needed size, as well as, depth to the position, giving the Broncos more line-up opportunities and options for an offense.
"We are looking forward to seeing how quickly Brittany develops as a middle blocker," said Garus. "We really like her versatility and ability to score from different areas."
Joining Nesselhuf as the only other setter for the Broncos, freshman Casey Rose joins the Broncos out of Eugene, Ore. Rose will not only add depth to the setter position, but will also build solid experience for the seasons to come by playing and training with Nesselhuf.
"Casey has a beautiful setting touch," said Garus. "We expect her to get a lot better as she trains with Bre (Nesselhuf) and if she can connect with our middles she will give us a lot of options offensively."
Leah Stevens, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native joins the Broncos on the outside, adding a powerful swing and a solid block to the team. She will be one of a handful of outsides to contribute both at the outside and rightside positions this season.
"Leah's best skill is her blocking," said Garus. "We plan to have her compete on both the outside and rightside so we can add more athleticism to those positions."
The Broncos look to have a well-rounded, strong team for the 2010 season and look to build off of a successful first season under Garus and his staff. With the return of the nine veterans who were the core of the 2009 team, as well as, the addition of seven talented newcomers, the Broncos look toward a successful and exciting 2010 season.