Muskies Look to Continue Winning Ways
Athletics - posted on 8/15/2005
The Muskies are looking to capture their fifth LMC title, and return to the NCAA tournament and advance past the first round. While the program lost eight players from last season, only three of them were starters, which makes those goals appear to be reasonable.
"We also want to play a tough schedule all year long so that we are in a position to advance past the first round of the NCAA tournament and get ourselves in the mix with some of the best teams in the region," Schreiber said. "We want to continue to build on our success, and I think the people in our program now expect us to do at least as good as the year before. So our expectations are to not only win the conference championship and get into the NCAA tournament, but to take the next step and advance past the first round and put ourselves in a position to win a national championship."
Offense Defense Schedule 2004 Recap
Key losses: Amy Lieske (all-LMC); Leeann Hupfer (honorable mention all-LMC); Resi Ertler
Key returnees this season: Heather Heberlein (right side, 5-11, Kiel/Kiel); Lana Neuman (setter, 5-7, Hortonville/Hortonville); Sarah Buechel (libero, 5-5, Fond du Lac/Fond du Lac); Nikki Boeckh (middle hitter, 6-0, McHenry Ill./Johnsburg)
Key additions: Jessica Sparling (setter, 5-9, Addison Ill./Addison Trail); Heidi Kramer (outside hitter, 5-8, Green Bay/New Lutheran); Danielle Swindell (outside hitter, 5-5, Hortonville/Hortonville); Brittany Tarras (utility, 5-8, Edgar/Edgar)
Schreiber said this could be one of the most talented incoming classes in Lakeland history. Schreiber is looking for this class to be able to able to challenge his current starters and be able to contribute immediately this season.
"I think we need a freshman at each position to help us," Schreiber said. "If we can do that, we are going to be as deep as or deeper than we were last year. We're talented enough that we don't need a freshman starter. However, the talent we have coming in is high and it might be the best overall recruiting class since I've been here in terms of overall talent. I definitely brought in a recruiting class this year that is full of eventual starters in the next year or two. A lot is going to be expected of these girls in the program. What is going to be expected this year is that one in each position should be able to come off the bench for us in an important match."
The program is returning two of the top three hitters in the LMC in seniors Heather Heberlein (Keil/Kiel) and Nikki Boeckh (McHenry Ill./Johnsburg), along with their top setter, senior Lana Neuman (Hortonville/Hortonville). Neuman, a first team all-LMC honoree, led the league in assists last season with 1,535 with her closest competitor registering 484 fewer.
"Lana is our center," said Schreiber. "She has been a great team leader and is one of the most selfless players I've ever coached. From day one, she has been the player that has done whatever the team needs. She went from being a role player as a freshman to learning how to set her sophomore year and taking over the setting position. Last year she was an all-conference player and really just does whatever the team needs to win. She never really talks about herself, and she tries to be better for the people around her. She is a very selfless team player."
Looking to receive Neuman's sets this season will be Heberlein and Boeckh. Heberlein, the LMC Player of the Year last season, will be the key focus of the opposition this season. She was second in the conference in kills last season, averaging 2.6 a game.
"Heather was MVP of the conference because she is the most visible player on our side of the net," said Schreiber. "She is a very long, strong girl who you remember because of her physical presence. She hits the ball with a lot of velocity and ends a lot of plays. When she touches the ball, the rally is pretty much over and people remember that."
The defense will be led by Sarah Buechel (Fond du Lac/Fond du Lac) this season. Last year she was first on the team in digs with 3.88 a game. Although her health is a question due to a nagging foot injury, Schreiber looks to Buechel as one of the best ball control players on the team poised for a breakout senior year.
"Sarah Buechel has been one of the few four-year starters I've had in my time at Lakeland," said Schreiber. "From the time she walked in here, she has been on the court. She is a great ball control person. Last year she really matured by getting on a streak early and playing positively all season long. She had some off-season health problems that I hope are better by the time she comes in, because her great ball control makes us a better team. Of the three primary ball control players from last year, she is the only one returning, so if she is not able to be on the court a substantial amount of time, we might struggle this year."
Boeckh, a transfer addition last season, led the Muskies with 102 blocks and has the potential to be a great all-around player. Schreiber is hoping Boeckh will concentrate even more on defense this season.
"As a junior it was Nikki's first year with us," said Schreiber. "Boeckh has the physical ability to be a dominant middle, but she has to focus on being an all-around player instead of a one-dimensional player."
Since the goal is contending for a national championship, Schreiber intentionally went out and entered some of the top tournaments in the country, including the UW-Whitewater tournament on Sept. 23-24, the Elmhurst tournament on Oct. 13-14, the UW-LaCrosse tournament on Oct. 21-22, and the UW-Oshkosh tournament on Oct. 28-29.
"All the tournaments we've entered will include nationally- and regionally-ranked teams," Schreiber said. "We purposely got into tournaments full of teams that we have to beat to get past the first round of the NCAA tournament. Our conference schedule this year is very spread out so we play an even number of matches throughout the season. Last year, our conference schedule was loaded heavy in the middle of our season. A lot of the matches were at the end of September and the beginning of October. This year, almost every week we have an important conference match, so we can't point to one week or one portion of the schedule. One of the nice benefits this year is that homecoming week is a bye week for us. It will be nice during the middle of our season to have homecoming week off to enjoy the homecoming festivities, practice and prepare to make a push for the second half of the season."
2004 Recap: 25-14 (.641) overall; 13-1 (.929) Lake Michigan Conference
The Muskies capped off another successful volleyball season with their fourth straight LMC title and third straight NCAA tournament bid. It was the third straight year that Lakeland won both the LMC regular season and tournament titles. The program suffered three early-season losses in a tournament in Bloomington, Ill. before bouncing back to win six of their next seven matches. The Muskies led the LMC in six (hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage, assists, kills, service aces, match won-loss percentage) of the eight statistical categories that the LMC keeps.
"In terms of success last year, we were successful because we had good ball control people," said Schreiber. "We stayed healthy and everyone played their roles. The people who needed to be our ball control players were ball hogs and controlled the tempo on our side. People did what they were supposed to do."
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