MOUNT PLEASANT – For the second straight season, the Iowa Wesleyan College volleyball team will be opening its season in Jacksonville, Ill., as the Tigers will again play in the Illinois College Invitational this weekend.
The Tigers will face four NCAA Division III schools in the tourney, opening on Saturday at 2 pm against Eureka (Ill.) College. IWC will also face the University of Dubuque at 4 pm on Saturday and will then play Rose-Hulman (Ind.) Institute and Westminster (Mo.) College on Sunday.
No doubt the Tigers would be perfectly happy with a nearly complete duplication of their trip to Illinois College last fall. IWC opened last year with a perfect 4-0 mark in the tourney, and then-freshman B.J. Wagy (So.-Cedar Rapids, Iowa) began her college career with a splash, receiving Midwest Collegiate Conference Player of the Week honors for her performance in the tourney.
After the Labor Day weekend opener, the team will aim to take it up a notch the rest of the season. After a strong opening tourney last year IWC finished 13-25 overall, 2-6 in the MCC and in seventh place. The Tigers were a very young team last year with just one senior, libero Dana Gregory, who broke the school’s single-season dig record last year.
Third-year coach Erika Leitzke has been building since taking over in 2006 after graduation had gutted the program following two straight trips to the NAIA National Tournament. Defense has been the team’s strength in her first two years, and last year’s team set a number of school records in digs.
The hope is that this year’s team has the firepower to go along with strong defensive play. Returning to lead the attack will be sophomores Wagy and Katie Jammer (Green Bay, Wis.), who finished 1-2 on the team in kills last year. Wagy also broke the school record for solo blocks with 119 and was the lone Tiger to receive all-conference honorable mention last year.
Senior Corrie Wagner (Iowa City, Iowa) and junior Katie Leidl (Esterhazy, Saskatchewan) are both solid all-around players among the team leaders in kills and digs. Also among the five returning seniors are middle hitter Bonnie Hahn (Iowa City, Iowa) and defensive specialists Hallie Ostedgaard (Iowa City, Iowa), Missie Simmons (Russell, Iowa) and Nicole Orth (Burlington, Iowa).
A talented group of newcomers join the team, including setter Kendra Zimmerman (So.-Green Bay, Wis.). Zimmerman is a transfer from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., and is expected to take over as starting setter from Laura Glandorf, a junior last year who graduated in the summer.
In a preseason poll of MCC coaches, the Tigers were again picked to finish seventh this year. Defending conference regular season champion William Penn was again picked first, followed by St. Ambrose and Viterbo.
For more information regarding the IWC volleyball program or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.