Aug. 1, 2000
NKU SEEKS TO REMAIN AMONG NATIONS ELITE
Norse attempt to earn third straight trip to the Elite 8
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Historically speaking, it will be difficult for the Northern Kentucky University volleyball program to ever top the 1999 season. After all, NKU:
finished with a 33-2 record, the best mark in school history.
advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four for the first time in school history.
finished No. 2 nationally in the AVCA Division II poll, the highest ranking in the programs history.
featured two AVCA All-Americans in Jessica Buroker (first team) and Jenny Jeremiah (second team), the first time in school history NKU had placed two players on that team.
won its third consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference championship.
captured its second straight Great Lakes Region title and advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second consecutive year.
What can NKU possibly do for an encore this season?
We believe our program is established at both the regional and national levels, so we want to defend our conference championship and be in position to win the regional title again, NKU head coach Mary Biermann said. We have a very good group of veteran players to build around, and I really like the freshmen we have brought in.
If we can find someone to take Jenny Jeremiahs outside hitter position, we can challenge for the national championship, because we have lots of experience and talent everywhere else.
The Norse must replace Jeremiah, who finished her career as NKUs all-time leader in kills (1,613) and digs (2,050). Jeremiah also was named GLVC Player of the Year in 1999. Also missing are Jenni Long (960 career kills, 1,151 career digs) and Liz Lamping (1,152 career digs), both of whom graduated.
There is no doubt we have to make some major adjustments, and thats going to be our big challenge this year, said Biermann, who announced earlier this summer that she will retire from coaching after the 2000 season. Jenny Jeremiah was one of the best volleyball players in the programs history, and it is going to be very tough to replace her.
NKU does return four starters, including Buroker (410 kills, .401 hitting percentage, 105 block assists, 14 solo blocks), senior setter Bobbi Casey (1,577 assists), junior outside hitter Bethany Gastright (464 kills) and right-side hitter Greta Grinstead.
The Norse also welcome back junior middle hitter Denise Barhorst (24 solo blocks, 88 block assists, 249 kills, .306 hitting percentage), junior outside hitter Luisa Gomez, sophomore defender Tara Bach, junior middle hitter Julie Hathorn and junior outside hitter Amy Ryan.
When you return an All-American like Jessica Buroker to the lineup, it gives you a great player with experience to build around, but we also have other players who know what it takes to win, Biermann said. In addition to our experienced players, we also brought in some very good recruits who could help us this season.
Freshmen outside hitters Julie Wall and Camilla Welter will compete for significant playing time this season. Freshman middle hitter Ann Schoech could also be a factor for the Norse, who have won 34 consecutive matches in Regents Hall entering the 2000 season. NKU also owns 51 consecutive home wins against GLVC opponents.
Freshman Sara Taylor, a talented setter who led Louisville Assumption High School to its fifth consecutive state championship last year, will provide depth for NKU this season. Freshman outside hitter/defender Jessica McVey will challenge for significant playing time in 2000.
The schedule features early-season matches against NAIA powerhouse Georgetown (Ky.), and perennial NCAA Tournament participants Northern Michigan and Lock Haven. NKU also will travel to Midland, Mich., in September to play Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference members Grand Valley State, Northwood and Ferris State.
A year ago, NKU defeated both Northwood and Ferris State in the NCAA Tournament. Grand Valley State, however, managed to post a victory against the Norse last season in a match played at Fort Wayne, Ind.