Boise State 2009 Volleyball Preview
The 2009 Boise State volleyball season marks the beginning of the Shawn Garus era after he took hold of the program June 30, 2009. Garus inherits a team of 15 student-athletes including two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and six freshmen. Not only does he gain a new team, but two new assistant coaches as well, Chris Rushing and Candy Murphy, who joined the staff August 10, 2009.
The Broncos have an action packed schedule beginning the season with three straight tournaments. They will host 12 home matches throughout the season, including three (Northern Arizona, Tulsa and Cal State Northridge) during the Bronco Invitational during their opening weekend of play Aug. 28-29.
The Broncos head to Portland, Ore., the following weekend to participate in the Northwest Challenge including Portland State, Gonzaga and No. 4-ranked Washington. Washington is one of two Boise State opponents this season ranked in the 2009 AVCA Division I Coaches Top-25 Preseason Poll. The Broncos' final regular season tournament will be hosted by Loyola Marymount and will include the University of Houston and UC Irvine who was in the "others receiving votes" section of the AVCA Top-25 poll.
Beginning regular season matches, the Broncos kick-off their non-tournament season with a home match against Utah Valley on Sept. 17. They reciprocate the Wolverine's trip to Boise on Oct. 5 in Orem, Utah. Boise State faces a tough challenge in the Western Athletic Conference season opener, facing No. 7-ranked Hawai'i in Honolulu. WAC member New Mexico State marks the only other 2009 opponent for the Broncos to be recognized in the AVCA Preseason poll earning an "others receiving votes" nod. The WAC regular season for Boise State stretches from the Hawai'i match to Nov. 19 when they travel to Moscow, Idaho to take on the University of Idaho. In that time frame the Broncos will face each of the eight WAC opponents twice, once at home and once on the road. Their only non-conference matches in that window include the away match at Utah Valley as well as an Oct. 10 match at Idaho State.
The 2009 WAC tournament has been moved to a neutral site and will be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., from Nov. 23-25. The top-6 teams in the conference earn bids to the tournament, changing from the nine-team format that was used in 2008 and earlier seasons.
The Broncos have two seniors on this season's squad, Jeanene Rose and Kati Lewis. The pair has made an impact for the Broncos in the back row the past three seasons, playing the majority of their time in the defensive specialist position. In their final season as Broncos, the duo will continue to compete in the position, helping the team by providing depth in the back row.
"Jeanene and Kati are hardworking, dedicated players that want to be a part of turning the Boise State program around," said Garus.
Rose will return as the second leading passer on the squad, tallying 182 last season. She also ranks third amongst the returners in service aces, racking up 10 last season.
"Jeanene has a reliable serve and great intensity as a defender," said Garus.
Lewis ranks fourth amongst returners in passing, putting up 87 digs last season as well as serving a major role on serve receive.
" Kati is a very good mending player," explained Garus. "She is always bettering balls and turning broken plays into offensive opportunities. She has very well-rounded skills."
The Broncos return four key players in the junior class including Lauren Hamm, Sadie Maughan, Emily Botts and Alisha Young (née King). The foursome is a multi-talented class, covering the outside hitter, middle blocker and defensive specialist/libero positions.
"The junior class is a very talented, well-rounded class with players at every position," said Garus.
Hamm returns to the team as the top passer and shares the top spot in service aces with Young. Hamm has served as the starting libero for the past two seasons and nearly doubled any other team members' total number of passes last season with 356. She also led the team in aces with 24.
Garus said, "Lauren is the best athlete among the defensive players and she will likely be our starting libero again this season.
Maughan will be the top returner at the net for the Broncos, leading the team with 215 kills and 104 blocks last season. She will be the strongest middle blocker on the squad and will be a much needed player for the Broncos to make an impact in the front row.
"Sadie has a great presence at middle blocker," noted Garus. "She takes up a lot of space and moves well as well as having unlimited potential as she improves."
Botts served as an outside hitter for the Broncos last season, playing in four matches. She made key plays with a big kill and vital block against Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., to help the Broncos to a win. She is a key to the backbone of the strength and spirit of the team.
"Emily is an extremely hard worker," said Garus. "She stays positive and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the team successful."
Young, formerly King, returns to the team with a new last name after marrying Boise State basketball player Tyler Young over the summer. Young will be a key player for the Broncos on the outside and right side where she made a big impact last season. She is the second-best returner in kills with 211 last season and is the third-best returner in blocks with 61 last season. Important in the back row as well, she tied with Hamm in leading the team in service aces with 24 in 2008 while also returning as the third-best passer with 155 digs in 2008.
Garus explained, "Alisha is our best pin blocker (on the right or left side). She is working hard to become a six-rotation player. She is unquestionably a "go-to" hitter."
The sophomore class returns only two from the 2008 roster and adds one transfer to the mix. Elizabeth Griffin and Amanda Remy return for the second season as Broncos with Griffin playing on the outside and Remy in the back row while Washington State transfer Breann Nesselhuf adds tremendous talent at the setter and outside positions as well.
"The sophomore class is a solid class with three really good athletes," said Garus.
Griffin returns to the Broncos as a key outside hitter from the 2008 season. She is the third-best returning blocker with 32 last season as well as No. 3 in kills with 178. She made an immediate impact on the Broncos last season .
"Griffin is very quick off the ground," explained Garus. "She has been helping the team by competing as a middle blocker as well as being one of our top outside hitters."
Remy returns to the team adding depth in the back row. She played at the defensive specialist position last season and picked up 38 digs on the season. She will look to make a much bigger impact in the back row and possibly the front row this season.
"Remy is a bundle of energy," said Garus. "She is our most competitive player in practice. She is also training to compete as an outside hitter for us this season."
Nesselhuf joins the squad for her first competitive season, but has been training with the Broncos since the spring semester when she transferred to Boise State. She will likely be the starting setter for Boise State, but is also a strong hitter and could make an impact on the outside.
Garus said, "Bre is our most dynamic player we have. She is outstanding as an athletic setter and has the fastest arm in the gym as a hitter."
The 2009 Boise State freshmen class brings a well-rounded group of talent to the roster. Six student-athletes join the team including two outside hitters, two setters, a middle blocker and a defensive specialist.
Garus said of the freshmen, "They are a very enjoyable bunch of girls and I have enjoyed working with them through preseason. I am looking forward to watching them grow as players and as the future of Boise State volleyball."
Laura Watt, a native of Encinitas, Calif., enters the season as the only other true middle blocker alongside junior Sadie Maughan on the roster. Her 6-foot, 1-inch frame should help to give the Broncos much needed height at the net.
"Laura is working hard to adjust to the speed of the college game," explained Garus. "She has an opportunity to start as a freshman as she continues to get stronger."
Hailing from Lake Forest, Calif., Liz Harden also brings much needed height to the roster. Matching Watt at 6-feet, 1-inches, Harden hopes to impact the team on the outside as well as improving as a six-rotation player.
"Liz is a very long outside hitter," said Garus. "She brings good energy to the court and has a deceptive arm swing."
Cailin Fellows, from Woodway, Wash., joins the team as an additional outside hitter. At 5-feet, 10-inches tall she will again add height to the front row. Although she comes in as an outside hitter, she will likely make an impact at both the left and right sides.
Garus noted, "Cailin puts a lot of pop on the ball and can play as an outside or right side hitter which gives us a lot great opportunities."
Kersti Whitney, a Coto De Caza, Calif. native, joins the squad as a defensive specialist and will add even more solid depth to the position.
"Kersti is a solid defensive player who stays low and controls the ball well," said Garus. "She brings good energy to practice every day and has been impressive when making emergency moves."
Kirsten Duren joins the team as a setter from Ripon, Calif. Duren will likely be an immediate competitor for the starting setter position. Although slight in stature standing at only 5-feet, 3-inches, Duren looks to make a huge impact for the Broncos this season and in future seasons.
"Kirsten is a very fast and aggressive player," said Garus. "She also plays really good defense and really wants to contribute to the team right away."
Joining Duren in the setters position, Emily Compton joins the team from Portola, Calif. Joining as another new setter to the squad Compton helps to add much needed depth to the position after the Broncos lost all their setters from the 2008 roster to the end of eligibility or transfers.
"Compton is a very competitive setter and is focused on improving every day in practice," said Garus. She works very hard to be a good teammate."
The Program's Future...
The Broncos have a tough task ahead of them to try to turn the Boise State volleyball program around. With only one winning season in the last decade, coming in 2004 (17-12), the Broncos have the perfect leader in Garus for the task.
Coming off a make-over of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro program where he turned the team from an 0-16 conference finish in 2005 to a 23-10 finish in 2008, Garus looks to have the right tools for the job. His UNCG accomplishment wasn't the only make-over on his resume'. In his first collegiate coaching position he led the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs from a 10-20 season in 1999 to a 22-9 season in 2001.
With the right leader and a talented group on the court, the Bronco's volleyball future is looking bright.
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