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Utah Volley State

Wolverines, Atoa looking to make more strides in ’05

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OREM — Entering its third season as a Division I program, the Utah Valley State College volleyball program is coming off a 2004 campaign in which the Wolverines finished with an 11-16 record, including victories over Memphis, Central Florida and Montana.

Utah Valley State head women's volleyball coach Sam Atoa returns seven players from last year's squad and looks to make more strides in 2005. Below is a season and position-by-position outlook of the 2005 Wolverine spikers.

The schedule

The Wolverines will play a 32-match schedule that includes 13 home matches, with four against in-state rivals. The schedule also features home-and-home matches against five other Division I Independent teams and two matches against 2004 NCAA Tournament teams.

"This is the best schedule we've had since we made the jump to Division I," said Atoa. "We are excited to have such a good home schedule that is spread out throughout the whole season."

The Wolverines got used to being on the road last season as they played 16 of 21 regular-season matches away from the friendly confines of the UVSC Activity Center before hosting the Independent Tournament to wrap up the season. Utah Valley posted a 6-10 overall record away from Orem, and finished 5-6 at home.

Atoa thinks being at home more in 2005 will help his team.

"Playing in front of a home crowd will give us motivation to step up and play well," said Atoa. "It's an added incentive to perform for your fans, family, and friends in a comfortable place."

The 2005 campaign starts off strong and is highlighted by a home match against Kansas in the Utah Valley/Brigham Young Challenge on Sept. 1. The Jayhawks advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2004 before falling to Washington, a Final Four team.

The Wolverines will get a chance to welcome three in-state teams to Orem for the first time. Utah (Sept. 20) and Weber State (Sept. 27) come to town in September, and Utah State (Oct. 10) makes the trip down from Logan in October.

Utah is the other team besides Kansas featured on this year's schedule that competed in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

"It's always good to play local teams at home," said Atoa. "It's tough to win on the road, so these home games will give us a chance to make things happen against our in-state rivals."

The roster

SETTERS: Junior Lacee Koelliker will return to run the offense in 2005, having already been a major part of it for the past two seasons. She was named second team All-Independent last season and is the current career

Wolverine assist leader, with 1,512 over two seasons.

"Having a setter come back for her junior year with two years of experience under her belt excites me," said Atoa. "Knowing that your quarterback can carry the load and dish the ball out anywhere is comforting."

Freshman Kari Heers, who is a versatile player and can play any position on the court, will also assist with distributing the ball.

DEFENSE: The back row will feature two players who return with experience — senior Maegan Hoyt and sophomore Chelsea O'Neal.

Hoyt etched her name in the Utah Valley State record book last season with a Wolverine record 33 digs against Northern Colorado. Two weeks later she notched 27 digs against Texas-Pan American, which is the second-best single-match total.

O'Neal averaged 2.85 digs per game.

Freshman Bethany Carron will also battle for playing time on the back row.

"I'm excited to have two players returning on the back row with experience," said Atoa. "They will all help to stabilize our defensive attack."

MIDDLE BLOCKERS: The middle core also returns with experience, with junior Stephanie McFarland and sophomore Jessica Endres coming back from last year's squad.

Endres had a very solid freshman campaign as she started 23 matches and was third on the team in kills-per-game average with 2.47. She led the Wolverines with 14 block solos, and 1.06 blocks per game.

"Jessica had a great freshman season, and I expect a whole lot from her, even though she will just be a sophomore," said Atoa.

McFarland started 21 matches, averaging 1.22 kills per game, and 0.48 blocks per game.

"Stephanie has improved every year she has been here," said Atoa.

They will be joined by redshirt freshman Carlyn Cadmus, and JC transfer Brooke Adams. Cadmus will play on the outside and in the middle.

"I expect Carlyn to compete for a lot of playing time," said Atoa.

Adams comes to Orem after having two solid seasons at Dixie State in St. George. She was a two-time All-Region selection at Dixie and led the Rebels with 49 block solos over two years.

"Brooke had two very successful seasons at Dixie and we expect her to come in and do the same," said Atoa. "Having a middle come in with two years of JC experience in a good league will help."

OUTSIDE HITTERS: There is no question that the Wolverines will miss the presence of all-time hitting percentage leader Alina Wallauer on the outside.

Krystal Taylor will redshirt this season due to shoulder surgery, which doesn't make things easy for Atoa. Taylor made 15 starts last season and recorded 199 kills. She was fourth on the team, averaging 2.37 kills per game.

Atoa will depend on Heers and senior Anne Olsen who will move from the back row to help fill the void of Wallauer and Taylor on the outside. They will be joined by Cadmus, who will split offensive duties between the middle and the outside, and freshman Camie Manwill.

Heers hails from Hawaii and was a four-year starter at Honokaa High. She was also named BIIF conference Player of the Year. Atoa says she is a great athlete and may be called upon to play every position on the floor.

"Kari is a dynamic player with a nose for the ball," said Atoa. "She makes the players around her better and can contribute in all areas."

Olsen did get one start on the outside last season and recorded nine kills against Westminster.

"Anne will do a good job for us," said Atoa. "She is a senior and has experience."

Manwill will help on the outside and will also be asked to step in on the defensive side of the net.

"Camie has great potential, works hard, and is still growing. She will come in and learn how to compete," said Atoa.

RIGHTSIDE HITTERS: As with the absence of Wallauer, the Wolverines will feel a major void on the rightside with the loss of all-time kills leader Deise Borghetti.

Atoa feels confident that Larissa Laycock will help make the loss of Borghetti easier.

Laycock will move to the rightside after playing her freshman season in the middle. She had a strong spring season and is starting to feel comfortable in a new position. Laycock played in 15 games last season, notching 19 kills — an average of .73 per game.

"The rightside is a very crucial position in volleyball. Larissa had a great spring and I'm confident with her ability to help us," said Atoa. "If she continues to play well she will see a lot of playing time."


Utah County connections

Players on the 2005 UVSC women's volleyball roster who have connections to Utah Valley include:

Stephanie McFarland, junior middle blocker: The Pleasant Grove native was a two-time all-region and all-state selection who helped the Vikings to the Utah 4A state championship her senior season.

Larissa Laycock, sophomore outside hitter: Lettered in four sports — volleyball, basketball, swimming and track — at Lone Peak High, earning all-region and all-state honors in volleyball and basketball.