August 19, 2011

New-Look Pipers start volleyball practice.

 There was a little bit of the old and a whole lot of the new on hand as the 2011 Hamline University volleyball team had their first practice Friday morning under the auspices of second year head coach Audrey Ludwig. In all, a dozen new names joined a pair of returning players as Ludwig brings in one of the largest recruiting classes the Pipers have ever seen.

The first day report was positive. "Practice went well," Ludwig said. "It was a very good start."

There’s not a senior on the HU roster but that doesn’t mean that the young team will lack leadership. Outside Hitter Aisha Baker (Jr., Minnetonka, Minn.) and Middle Blocker Sam Greeney-Hamlin (So., St. Cloud, Minn.) return to the court to help the Pipers establish a strong team identity.  Both players saw considerable action for the Pipers last season.

Greeney-Hamlin is a good example for her teammates of the impact that a first-year player can have on the court.  In her inaugural campaign last season, she led the Piper attack with 2.37 kills/set and 242 total kills.  She also tied for the team lead in total blocks with 34. Baker was second on the team in kills/set last year at 1.95, and tallied 154 total for the season. She is also a strong leader off the court and will be a good mentor for the newcomers competing at the outside hitter position. She was also Hamline’s representative on the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team in 2010.

 First-year players Frankie Miller (Grand Island, Neb.) and Paige Walters (Nevis, Minn.) will join Baker in competition for the OH role. Ludwig is also looking for Mackenzie Remick (Prior Lake, Minn.), a 6-2 right side hitter who was the MVP of the South Suburban Conference last year, to bring a strong blocking presence to the floor for the Pipers.  “We have a lot of players coming in who are from excellent club and high school programs,” Ludwig said. “They will be expected to fill major roles for us this season from day one.”

 Their classmates Karley Kilian (St. Michael, Minn.), Hanna Arns (Waverly,  Iowa), Dani Schultz (Eden Prairie, Minn.), and Stephanie Kaup (Chandler, Ariz.) bring in a versatility as hitters, all having played a lot of different attacking roles and therefore allowing Ludwig numerous lineup possibilities. Schultz is 5-11 while Kilian and Kaup stand 6-0, offering excellent size to the Pipers’ front wall.

Assisting the Piper attack will be a pair of first-year setters looking to make an immediate impression. Sammie Miller (Grand Island, Neb.) – Frankie’s twin sister – will be joined by Becka Mozes (Eden Prairie, Minn.)  at the position.  Ludwig, a three-time All-MIAC setter for St. Olaf, believes that Miller and Mozes are capable and talented setters who each bring something different to the court.    

 As with the other positions, the battle for libero and defensive specialist roles are wide open between Lynsey Reimer (Peosta, Iowa), Lacy Koss (Dodge Center, Minn.),  and Brittney Bredemus (Andover, Minn.).

The young Pipers will play nine matches (including a pair of weekend  tournaments on the road) before starting MIAC play September 13 at Concordia. Another weekend tournament follows. So, by the time the Pipers are ready for the meat of the conference slate, Ludwig may have a good feel for where her players stand.

 “With this many new players, establishing the intensity and work ethic of our gym culture and developing team chemistry early on will be important to our success. The incoming players will need to learn our systems and style of play quickly before our opening match (against Bethany Lutheran on September 1),” she said. “What I do know at this point is that we have a lot of players who are passionate about playing volleyball for Hamline. That’s a great base to start from. It will be exciting to more forward from there.”