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Although there are new faces aplenty for head coach Chad Schreiber and the 2010
Last season, the Muskies won the conference tournament to earn the program's sixth NCAA Tournament appearance. Unfortunately, they had the tough draw of facing
Schreiber understood the challenges going into that final game in 2009. "We had a tough draw going to play a top 10 school at home," Schreiber said. "They lead the nation in attendance every year; it's one of the toughest places to play in the country. We played hard, but they were just a great team. Our early-season struggles may have prevented us from getting a better draw."
Schreiber is excited for this season with a talented group of freshman to mix with an experienced group of upperclassmen. "This is the deepest group of girls I've had since taking over at
This team has a different make up of the past few years. "The last time we turned over this much personnel was three years ago, when we finished third in the conference," Schreiber said. "I'll be looking more at what we did that year and how to improve from that year, as opposed to comparing it to last season."
The Muskies are counting on their upperclassmen to play leadership roles on the court. That begins with three seniors - setter Kristine Raeder (
The upperclassmen may have talent and experience, but Schreiber says there is no set lineup yet. "One thing I learned from the team three years ago is that you can't make players fit a lineup," Schreiber said. "You have to make your lineups fit the players. As the preseason goes, we'll see who steps up and who's ready to play for our opening weekend."
After earning All-NAC first team honors last season, Raeder begins her second year as the team's full-time setter. In 2009, Raeder moved up the program's record board as she posted the fourth best assists in a season with 1,248, and she's cracked the top five on the career assists list.
This season, the Muskies expect much of the same from their senior while also asking her to be a teacher on the court. "We will look to her to provide instructions and leadership to those on the court that are not sure what's going on," Schreiber said.
Regester will get her chance to show the coaches she's ready to be a starter and a leader. "Jessica is a talented player who has been stuck behind talented upperclassmen," Schreiber said. "We hope that she can step up and that she's ready to take over as our right side hitter."
Shepeck has impressed the coaches this year after posting 180 kills and 147 digs in 102 games last fall. "She has come into camp and worked hard and she is looking like the senior we expected to see," Schreiber said. "We are expecting her to step up and be a strong presence at the net as our senior outside hitter."
Laganowski has seen the court in split duty her first two years with the Muskies and will look to begin a more expanded role this season. In limited time last season, Laganowski had 180 digs and 16 kills. "Amanda has had plenty of court time these past two years and shouldn't have any problems transitioning into a full-time role," Schreiber said.
Three freshmen will be competing for time at the middle hitter position opposite
"They all have good height and good individual skill sets," Schreiber said. "It will be interesting to see how the playing time battle plays out. It's going to be whoever shows that they are ready to go."
The Muskies also have much-needed depth at setter with freshman Brittany Reindl (
Another notable freshmen to watch is Melissa Chrisitansen (
Katie Freitag (
"The entire freshmen class can play at any time, it's just a matter of who is ready and who can help us win right now," he said. "This is a very deep and talented team, and I expect to have a good year just like any other."
The Muskies open at home September 3-4 with their own tournament, the Muskie Classic. Their first match is Sept. 3 at 7:30 pm against UW-Oshkosh, followed by two matches on Sept. 4 against UW-River Falls (10 a.m.) and Millikin (noon).
"We open up the season against UW-Oshkosh; they spent more time at No. 1 (in the nation) last season than any other team," Schreiber said. "That's not by accident. It is a purposeful scheduling choice by me. That's were we want to get to, and I want them to see that right away. I don't want to talk about it; I want them to see where they need to be opening night."
The Muskies will play in three tournaments this season: at