A year ago, HU head volleyball coach Audrey Ludwig had to spend a lot of the first couple of practices making introductions. What a difference a year makes. The 2012 version of the Pipers is still the youngest team in the MIAC and one of the youngest in the country. But they are no longer a bunch of fresh faces. 11 sophomores and one junior (as well as six new faces) were on hand as HU went through their first drills on August 18 at Hutton Arena (see picture).
In 2011, the freshmen (and holdover Sam Greeney-Hamlin) learned lessons all year en route to a 9-19 overall record. A year later, HU is ready to move up in the MIAC. It won't be easy. After all, the league sent four teams to the NCAA tournament a year ago. The first AVCA poll has two loop schools (St. Thomas, Concordia) rated in the top 19 in Division III and a third team (St. Benedict) also receiving votes.
But the combination of year's experience, new faces that may challenge for playing time and an attractive schedule that includes a dozen matches at Hutton Arena (twice as many as a year ago) has Ludwig feeling good about the team.
"Last fall, we were just very young and spent a lot of time
learning our systems. This year, we come in as a more experienced team that
worked hard in the off-season and is committed to reaching our goals,” she
said. “That alone will make a big difference this year.”
The Pipers open their season August 31 when they travel to Beloit for a tournament.