Lakeland volleyball set to host Muskie Classic
Athletics - posted on 9/3/2009
The Lakeland women's volleyball team opens its season this Friday and Saturday with the five-team Muskie Classic, the squad's first non-conference home tournament in six years.
This year's schools include Lakeland and fellow Northern Athletics Conference member Alverno College, Ripon College and St. Norbert College out of the Midwest Conference (MWC), and UW-Superior from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).
The last time the Muskies hosted a five-team tournament was in 2003, when St. Norbert, Elmhurst (Ill.), UW-River Falls and Aurora competed at the Wehr Center. With the exception of head coach Chad Schreiber, no member of the 2009 Lakeland program was around for that tournament.
"We are pumped," senior outside hitter Brittanie Paulus said. "It's good to get a tournament or a couple games in on your home floor before you start conference, and the freshmen and those who didn't see a lot of playing time last year can get used to the atmosphere."
This year's tournament also gives the Lakeland program a chance to showcase the Moose & Dona Woltzen Gymnasium, which opened in 2005 and currently hosts volleyball and basketball contests.
"It will be nice to finally have an event again," Schreiber said. "We have the type of facility that should be hosting a tournament, and we're a team that, year in and year out, has been competitive and should be hosting a tournament. So it's nice to get one back on our schedule."
Lakeland begins the season as a favorite to win the NAC for the third consecutive season. In 2008, the Muskies received an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament after winning the NAC Tournament title. Lakeland, which also captured the regular season league championship, finished 25-11 overall (12-0 NAC) after losing in the opening round of the NCAAs to regional host and No. 1 seed UW-Oshkosh.
Schreiber is confident that the team can advance deeper into postseason play this season, as it returns six seniors and at least seven players with NCAA Tournament playing experience.
"I think now, with this group, we have some tournament experience to draw on," Schreiber said. "We're just going to try and challenge ourselves against highly regarded regional opponents when we leave our conference."
This year's tournament is no exception to Schreiber's challenge.
St. Norbert is the defending MWC champion, and has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in three of the past five seasons. Last season, the Green Knights lost to second-seeded Carthage in the first round of the NCAAs.
Ripon (2-0) is selected to finish tied for fourth in the MWC this season as the team aims for its third consecutive trip to the MWC Tournament and a shot at the title under first-year head coach Becca Carstensen.
UW-Superior (2-0) looks to move up in the perennially challenging WIAC, while Alverno enters the 2009 season hoping to make a push in the NAC.
The Muskies, meanwhile, hope to improve on a 1-3 showing at the 2003 Muskie Classic. Paulus and the rest of Lakeland's players are excited about the opportunity to start the year, especially in familiar confines.
"It will be a good experience to get the jitters out of the way before we start conference," Paulus said. "And of course, it's always good to play at home so you can have fans and support.
"If we look far enough into the future, we'd like to win conference and host matches in the conference tournament, so it's like we'd start here and end here."
Share This Story Help
Lakeland offers links to several popular social bookmarking services. These links help you share stories with other people or create bookmarks for future reference. The services are free, but they require a personal account. Click for more information on social bookmarking
<< Return to News