OREM — Sam Atoa isn't standing pat.
Although the Utah Valley State women's volleyball coach returns the core group of players that led his Wolverines to an 18-11 campaign and Division I Independent Tournament championship last year, the 2006 roster boasts no fewer than four new transfers with Division I experience.
"We recruited certain individuals that we feel add depth and talent to our program," Atoa said. "You don't go out looking for transfers; it was more a case of (the transfers) knowing about our program and what we're doing here. We're very excited to have them."
The four new faces include setter Gina Mendenhall (Cal State Northridge), front-liner Terin Ledall (Northern Colorado), and a pair of former Weber State outside hitters in Ashley Dallin (Mountain View) and Kaylee Kortsen.
The quartet of Division I transfers probably won't see extensive action early on — in fact, in the first three matches of 2006, only Dallin saw significant playing time. Barring injury, UVSC will continue for the foreseeable future to rely heavily on senior setter Lacee Koelliker, sophomore outside hitter Camie Manwill and junior middle blocker Jessica Endres.
SETTER: Koelliker, the 2005 Independent Setter of the Year, was the heart and soul of last year's team. Offseason back surgery, however, put her senior season in doubt. She may not physically be back to 100 percent, but she's already healthy enough to have started all three matches over the weekend at the Sun Devil Classic while averaging over seven sets per game. If Koelliker holds up, Mendenhall will be hard-pressed to get on the court during matches.
OUTSIDE HITTER: Manwill was the surprise player of the 2005 squad. As a true freshman, she led the team with 375 kills and earned Independent Newcomer of the Year and second team All-Independent recognition. Manwill's biggest challenge in 2006 will be improving her consistency from a year ago; last season she had more than her fair share of both brilliant spikes and "freshman mistakes" alike. Dallin and Kortsen should see playing time on the outside as well.
MIDDLE BLOCKER: Endres returns for her third straight season starting in the middle for the Wolverines. A rock of consistency, the 6-foot-1 Endres led UVSC in blocks (93) and hitting percentage (.321) en route to garnering first team All-Independent honors. Senior middle blocker Brooke Adams led the Wolverines in blocks per game (.085) and hit .275 in 2005. Another senior, Stephanie McFarland will see middle and outside action both in the middle and on the outside.
DEFENSE: The back line will showcase junior Chelsea Baugh, sophomore Bethany Carson and freshmen Kaui Piena and Ashley Santiago.
TO DATE: Utah Valley won one and lost two last weekend at the Sun Devil Classic. The performance should surprise no one, as the Wolverines dropped matches to a 2005 NCAA Tournament qualifier (Loyola Marymount) and Pac-10 foe (host Arizona State) before downing Northeastern in five games.
Utah County connections 2006
Ashley Dallin, Jr., OH (Mountain View): Transfers this year from Weber State. After a strong freshman season for the Wildcats, Dallin played sparingly as a sophomore due to illness and injury. She lettered in four sports as a Bruin: volleyball, basketball, track and field, and softball.
Stephanie McFarland, Sr., MB (Pleasant Grove): Fifth-year senior started 26 of 29 matches in 2005. McFarland ranked third in service aces and fifth in kills for UVSC last season. She will turn 23 in October and is the oldest player on the roster by more than a year.
Dani Robinson, Fr., MB (Orem): Earned All-State recognition in 2005 at Orem High. Robinson is cousin of BYU basketball player Sam Burgess. At 6-foot-2, she is one of only five Wolverines taller than six feet. Robinson will redshirt in 2006.
2006 UVSC remaining volleyball schedule
Date Opponent Time
Sept. 1 vs. Samford 5 p.m.
Sept. 2 vs. Furman 10 a.m.
Sept. 2 @ Central Florida 3 p.m.
Sept. 6 @ Idaho State 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 Weber State 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 Oral Roberts 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 IPFW 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 @ San Jose State 6 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. CS Northridge 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Harvard 4 p.m.
Sept. 22 Dixie State 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 @ Texas-San Antonio 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 @ Texas-Pan American 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 BYU 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 @ Utah 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 @ South Dakota State 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 @ North Dakota State 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 South Dakota State 3 p.m.
Oct. 28 North Dakota State 7 p.m.
Nov. 3 Montana State 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 Texas-Pan American 7 p.m.
Nov. 10-11 TBA TBA
NOTE: All times Mountain. Home games at UVSC McKay Center. Tournaments: Sept. 1-2 — UCF Fall Classic, Orlando, Fla.; Sept. 8-9 — LaQuinta Invitational, Orem; Sept. 15-16 — Hyatt Invitational, San Jose, Calif.; Nov. 10-11 — Division I Independent Tournament, Fargo, N.D.