Aug. 3, 2001
NKU BEGINS NEW ERA UNDER CHIA
First-year Norse volleyball head coach has lofty goals in 2001
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - He is a proven recruiter, not to mention a tireless worker who always seems to be in motion.
After serving the last seven years as an assistant coach for the Northern Kentucky University volleyball team, Carlos Chia is now in charge of the Norse program. Chia replaces Mary Biermann, who retired as head coach following last season.
Chia inherits an NKU program that owns four consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference championships and has made four straight trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Norse return four starters from last years 27-7 team that advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament and finished with a No. 20 ranking in the national poll.
NKU owns a 206-32 record during the past seven seasons, and the Norse advanced to the 1999 NCAA Division II Final Four. Chia, whose recruiting has been instrumental in making NKU a national power, has lofty goals for his 2001 Norse.
Our goals are to win the GLVC, the region and advance to the Final Four, Chia said. This is not just an arbitrary wish. We have been building toward a national ranking for the past seven years. With the team we have this year, we can advance to the Final Four. From there it is a question of mental preparedness and heart.
We have the experience and the talent to go all the way. Year after year we come poised to compete for a shot at a national title.
NKU features All-GLVC outside hitter Bethany Gastright. A year ago, Gastright recorded 600 kills and a .320 hitting percentage. She also earned All-Great Lakes Region honors and recorded at least 30 kills three times last season.
Gastright, a graduate of Holy Cross High School, enters her senior season with 1,149 career kills (No. 6 in Norse history).
Her strength as a leader will help set an example for the team, Chia said. Over the summer, she has worked hard and has continued to get stronger. Her determination and experience are key factors in her performance. I expect her to provide the continuity that it takes to consistently perform at the top as an elite All-Region player.
Also returning to the Norse lineup is senior middle hitter Julie Hathorn, who ranked No. 2 in the GLVC in service aces last season. Hathorn was No. 3 on the team with 326 kills, and she led the team with 17 block solos and 79 block assists.
Senior middle hitter Denise Barhorst is another veteran for the Norse. Barhorst ranks No. 5 in Norse history with 62 block solos, and she will be a key for NKU in 2001. Senior defender Luisa Gomez recorded 209 digs last season and is an excellent back row player.
Julie Hathorn and Denise Barhorst will provide the additional experience and stability that the team needs to compete at the national level, Chia said. Both of them have been to the NCAAs three times and know that when you reach that level, it is all about being mentally prepared.
Denise is an excellent blocker, and being six-foot-one makes it tough to hit over her. Julies strength is her quickness. She can read the offense and cover the net with amazing agility.
Sophomore Sara Taylor could start at setter this season for NKU. Taylor was NKUs top defender last season, but she will challenge for the starting setter's position in 2001. A year ago, Taylor had 312 digs. Freshman Kate OToole will also challenge for the starting setter position.
At this point the setter position is undecided, and both have been working very hard, Chia said. The players themselves will determine who will be the starting setter. Sara and Kate are both very competent athletes, and with all the talent coming in, it really is about who wants it (the setter position) the most.
Sophomore outside hitter Cammi Welter returns after recording 263 kills as a freshman. Welter is a powerful hitter and will be a major factor this year.
Junior Emily Bowman, a right-side hitter and a transfer from Clark State (Ohio) Community College, could start immediately. Freshman middle hitter Maggie Pugh and freshman defender Amber Timmons will also contribute.
This undoubtedly is one of the most athletic classes ever recruited for NKU, Chia said. Emily is a left-handed hitter, and she is strong and lean. Amber is a very quick defensive specialist and has excellent court awareness. Maggie is very athletic. Her strength and quickness will be a tremendous asset on the court.
NKU will face a demanding schedule that includes matches against five teams that were ranked in last seasons final NCAA Division II top 25 poll. The Norse will play No. 8 University of Tampa, No. 21 Barry (Fla.) University and No. 23 University of North Florida during a tournament at Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
On Sept. 7, NKU will host No. 10 Grand Valley State University. The following day, NKU will play No. 13 Northwood (Mich.) University.
During our trip to Florida, we will play some very talented teams, Chia said. We will play Tampa, which has been NCAA runner-up twice recently, as well as Barry, which won the NCAA championship several years ago.
Playing the strong teams early is an advantage because everyone in still trying to assimilate and adjust.