WAYNE – Members of the Wayne State College volleyball program hit to the road Friday for an exhibition match against a Division I opponent before heading east and also taking part a premier tournament.
When WSC gets into league play, they’ll be battle tested with a non-conference schedule.
Head coach Scott Kneifl enters his 18th year leading the program. Coach Kneifl feels like this year’s squad is a better ball control team.
“We’re receiving serve better, we’re playing better defense so our deep court is definitely going to be a positive,” said Kneifl. “We have people that can terminate the ball as well but I think we are really going to try and build this thing on ball control and defense similar to that 2015 team that made that run.”
Assistant coach Kim DePew will be in her 15th season with the program joined by former player and coaching assistant Katie Morris in her sixth season.
Senior Jessie Brandl (Stanton, NE) is a defensive/libero and added the team stuck around town and trained over the summer.
“We had practices on Thursday’s or just scrimmaged against each other,” Brandl added. “Just seeing that competition in the summer it’s just crazy how we can bring that into this year’s season; it’s very exciting.”
Middle hitter Taya Beller (Lindsay, NE) is a redshirt COVID-sophomore entering her fourth year with the program. Beller mentioned more what it’s going to take to be competitive this season up front.
“Just working hard staying focused during games and just trusting your teammates to help you out when to jump for the outsides and right sides,” Beller mentioned.”
Sophomore middle hitter Maggie Brahmer (Pierce, NE) was selected as the Wildcat Player to Watch this season
“I give all credit to my teammates,” said Brahmer. “I couldn’t have done it by myself and I give a lot of credit to my coaches as well, they’ve set the tone. My upperclassmen as well and my freshman. They’ve put a lot of tools in my tool box that I can use for later years and hopefully for the next three years.”
Commit-blocking and some different schemes were worked on Thursday. Also, the weekday practice was all about fine-tuning ahead of an exhibition at Kansas State University on Friday. Staff is excited about the opportunity to play against great athletes and see what the team needs to work on.
WSC collected 189 points in voting conducted by league coaches in the preseason poll to sit third. The ‘Cats finished the 2021 season at 22-8 overall and was fourth in the NSIC with a 14-6 league mark while ending the year ranked 18th in the final AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll.
NSIC volleyball teams again stack up inside the top 25. According to the AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Preseason Poll released on August 17, #6 Concordia-St. Paul; #9 St. Cloud State; #15 Winona State, #17 Wayne State College and #22 Southwest Minnesota State were rated with Minnesota Duluth, Northern State and Augustana University also receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots.
Coach Kneifl also mentioned fans will have a different atmosphere when attending home Wildcat volleyball matches this season.
“No longer a stage here in Rice Auditorium which our president, our athletic director, all of the administrators here they’ve done a fantastic job of selling the Wildcat brand and changing it into a top notch division II athletic facility.”
The Wayne State College volleyball team opens the 2022 season at the Adelphi Tournament in New York on Thursday and Friday, August 25 – 26 playing four matches before taking part in the highly competitive Colorado Premier Challenge September 2 – 3 in Denver, Colorado.
Following a non-conference road match at Chadron State College on Monday, September 5, WSC will host Concordia-St. Paul (6 p.m.) and Minnesota-State-Mankato (1 p.m.) on Friday, September 9 – Saturday, September 10.