Despite a rocky season, the women’s volleyball team topped off their 2016 campaign with a 3-2 victory over Luther on senior night. This year, the team was comprised of four seniors on the varsity squad while three played on reserves. All seven of these athletes were crucial components to the team as a whole, and their attitudes and strengths will be missed.
Maddi Theisen, Kelly Doran and Brittany Lijewski were the three seniors who rounded out the reserves roster. Head Coach Jenna Ness credits each of them with bringing a special aspect to the team. For instance, she names Theisen as a great leader who holds others accountable and enhances the team culture. Ness notes that Doran is very competitive and brings a high level of energy. Finally, the coach recognizes Lijewski for having a strong work ethic.
The four seniors of the varsity team debuted as Duhawks their freshman year. They gave four years to the Loras volleyball program, and each had a significant presence on and off the court.
Blake served most of her collegiate career as an outside hitter, but stepped in as setter for part of the 2016 season. She totaled 490 career kills and 144 career assists. Ness acclaims Blake as the personality of the team.
“She can really relate well to all players and will be one of the smartest players that ever goes through Loras volleyball,” said Ness.
A staple and more constant setter for the team was Erickson. The Springfield, IL, native continued to improve throughout her time on the court. She finished her career with 1960 assists and 89 aces. Her 21 aces this season ranked second on the team.
“She (Erickson) is the reason we are able to run the offense that we do and a large reason our middles are so good. She is very funny, runs a great offense and has a great serve,” said Ness.
One of these middles who has benefited from Erickson’s efforts is Kennedy. The Dyersville, IA, product broke 1,000 kills this season, finishing her career with 1,038. She recorded a career-high 2.29 kills per set this season in addition to registering 409 career blocks.
“Danni has been an All-Conference performer since her freshman year and is known throughout the conference as one of the best middles. Everyone trusts Danni on and off the court,” said Ness.
The final Duhawk to graduate this year is another middle hitter, Therese Schultz. Through the 423 sets of her career, Schultz tallied 786 kills and 215 blocks. In 2016 alone she recorded 258 kills.
“Therese has been such a joy to coach and watch develop over four years, both on and off the court. She can motivate and encourage people better than anyone I’ve ever coached,” said Ness.
The volleyball program will definitely experience a loss with the graduation of these seniors, but there is a lot of talent remaining in the first-year, sophomore and junior classes. The program has a bright future with these athletes working under the reign of Coach Ness.