Jimmies look to build off last yearThe Jamestown College volleyball team had two close calls before last year’s breakthrough. The Jimmies, after losing in the Dakota Athletic Conference championship two straight years, were finally able to capture the conference crown last season and advance to their first-ever NAIA national tournament.
The Jamestown College volleyball team had two close calls before last year’s breakthrough.
The Jimmies, after losing in the Dakota Athletic Conference championship two straight years, were finally able to capture the conference crown last season and advance to their first-ever NAIA national tournament.
Their run ended quickly, falling to Rocky Mountain in the opening round, but that little taste of the national spotlight left coach Jon Hegerle and his team wanting more.
“We just talked about our goal with the group and I think it’s just a natural evolution to make it their goal to get to the tournament and make it past the first round,” said Hegerle, who is beginning his this season at JC. “I think the girls that were on the team last year are hungry for that.”
The Jimmies, who finished 20-13 last season, bring back four players who saw significant playing time last season. They did, however, bid farewell to a few impact players, including the DAC’s Most Valuable Player.
Shannon Fee, a Williston native, led the Jimmies with a 434 kills on her way to grabbing the conference’s top individual award leaves big shoes to fill.
“Shannon was great because she took pressure off the rest of the players with her offensive output and her force at the net,” Hegerle said. “We’re certainly going to miss her. She was a great leader.
“That role is out there, so hopefully we have some players out there that will step in and fill that.”
Samantha Revering, Krysten Williams, Becca Price, Allison Church and Katie Fediuk also ran out of eligibility after playing key roles in recent seasons.
“The one thing that I’m interested to see is our experience,” said Hegerle. “Those players have all played a lot of volleyball and last year they had a lot of experience. All of that was important in them moving forward and being able to take that next step of getting to nationals.”
Fee and Revering were two of the biggest kill producers for the Jimmies last season, so Hegerle will be looking for a few players to emerge and fill those roles.
“We’ve got a number of good athletes,” Hegerle said. “I think we’re going to be a taller, more athletic team in the front row.”
Junior Katie Zent, a two-year all-conference player, will likely see an increased role on offense after piling up 262 kills a year ago, second most on the team. Sarah Becker also returns after racking up 162 kills as a freshman.
“We’re looking for those two to certainly carry the load a little bit,” Hegerle said. “We’ve also got some good young players.
“Heather Brown, Kaitlyn Rogalla, Alex Hanson, Emilee Schutta, Mattie McDonald and Sarah Didychuk have all been stepping it up in practice.”
And that depth is something Hegerle is relying on.
“When you look at it, we’re actually deeper than we were last year because we have a number of players that can fill those positions,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition in practice now for position.”
On Saturday they get their first real test when they head to Valley City to face Waldorf College (Iowa) in a neutral-court match.
With a lot of inexperienced players taking the court, wins and losses won’t weigh as heavily in the early stages of the season. Hegerle said his focus early on will be seeing how the players acclimate to the speed and level of competition.
“We’re just looking for the players to come with a lot of energy and to compete hard,” he said. “We know it’s early in the season and mistakes are going to be made. ... We’re just going to talk about competing hard and taking care of the ball on our side of the net.”
Sun sports writer David Griswold can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Also, follow Griswold on Twitter @dgriswoldjssun