August 25, 2003
USI volleyball to start 2003 campaign
The University of Southern Indiana volleyball team will start its 2003 campaign this Friday, August 29, when it travels to Huntsville, Alabama, to compete in the Radisson Inn/University of Alabama-Huntsville Tournament.
With training camp coming to a close, the Screaming Eagles will have four days of preparation before they take on Newberry College and Presbyterian College Friday.
The Eagles, under the direction of head coach Craig Bere, finished the 2002 campaign with a 26-8 record, its third consecutive 20-win season, second GLVC Green Division title in three seasons, and its first GLVC Tournament championship and NCAA II Tournament berth.
Entering the 2003 campaign, the Eagles are looking to ride the momentum they built last season. The Eagles return three starters, including its All-Region and All-Conference setter Kim Boehmer (Cincinnati, Ohio) as well as its All-Conference middle blocker Leeanne Gross (Decatur, Indiana).
Boehmer enters her final season in a USI uniform needing just two assists for 4,000 in her career. Simply put, Boehmer is the best setter in USI history and one of the top setters in the history of the GLVC.
Gross, a junior, has established herself as one of the premier middle blockers in the GLVC and will be one of Boehmer’s best targets in 2003. She needs just 267 kills to surpass 1,000 for her career and 290 to enter the top five all-time at USI.
In 2002, Gross ranked in the GLVC’s top 25 in five of the six statistical categories. She recorded 10 or more kills in 17 matches during her sophomore campaign.
Another go-to player for the Eagles in 2003 will be junior middle hitter Natalie Atzinger (Louisville, Kentucky). Atzinger was USI’s most consistent offensive weapon in 2002. She finished eighth in the GLVC with a team-high .314 attacking percentage to go along with 2.38 kills per game.
One area of concern for the Eagles will be at the outside and right side hitter positions. The Eagles lost three seniors—the GLVC “Player of the Year,” Shannon Wells, first-team Academic All-America performer, Kristi Kavanaugh, and right side hitter/setter Greta Grinstead—from its 2002 squad.
A player who will be looked upon to provide offensive spark from the outside will be senior outside hitter Ashley Riordan (Mt. Vernon, Indiana). Due to USI’s abundance of talent at the outside hitter position in 2002, Riordan was limited to defensive situations. Riordan recorded 335 kills and 446 digs as a sophomore in 2001 at Clarion University.
Look for sophomore Laura Ellerbusch (Newburgh, Indiana) to make the transition from the middle to the right side. Ellerbusch showed good signs during her freshman season and impressed the coaching staff during the spring season.
Sophomore outside hitter Randi Raff (Rensselaer, Indiana) should provide depth at the outside hitter position. Raff, who did not play in 2002, recorded 35 kills as a freshman in 2001.
Junior libero Kristine Wheeler (Indianapolis, Indiana) will have to pick up where Wells and Kavanaugh left off. Wells and Kavanaugh led the squad with 3.98 and 3.39 digs per game, respectively.
Wheeler played in all 33 matches and recorded 111 digs (1.59 dpg) as a sophomore 2002. She had a season-high 11 digs against Saint Joseph’s College.
In addition to the returnees raising their levels of play, the Eagles will be counting on five newcomers to fill vital roles in 2003.
Bere brought in a pair of transfers and four freshmen. Junior defensive specialist Kacie Goodman (Waterloo, Illinois) recorded 177 digs and helped John A. Logan Community College to the Great Rivers Conference championship as well as a regional championship as a sophomore in 2002.
Kacie Goodman’s younger sister, Courtney Goodman (Waterloo, Illinois) will provide the Eagles a back up setter in 2003 and a viable candida