Depth is not a very common word used when talking about the Blackburn College Volleyball program. However second year Head Coach Jim Hunstein says that will not be the case this year and is ready to tackle the season.
"Depth is an important aspect during practice because there is constant competition taking place. We have a team of 14 girls and unfortunately, only six can be out on the court at a time. By having this large of a group they are always pushing one another to their limits during practice," Hunstein said.
With such an increased number on the roster, versatility is something else expected from the Beavers this season. "With numbers comes versatility, meaning that some of these players can play more than one position. This adds to the level of competition for the players on the team," Hunstein said.
With such a large incoming class, Hunstein will trust his three captains to provide leadership. Leading the Beavers this year will be senior Defensive Specialist/Libero Alexis Dick (De Land, IL), junior Setter Jensen Ballinger (Vincennes, IN) and junior Outside Hitter Kendall Knop(Strasburg, IL). "These three players bring a wide range of experience and leadership to this young team. I am relying on these three to help the freshmen not only adjust to the quicker speed of the game, but to also help them adjust to college as a whole," Hunstein commented.
Ballinger and Knop will be joined by two fellow juniors to round out the list of returners. Middle Hitter Shelsie Timmermeier (Litchfield, IL) and Outside Hitter Emily Schroeder (St. Louis, MO) return for their third season of play for Blackburn.
The beavers will add a total of eight freshman to their roster, inflating their numbers. Joining the Beavers are Setters Kendall Burleyson (Kinmundy, IL) and Alyssa Keith (Chester, IL); Defensive Specialists Drew Newberry (Decatur, IL) and Annika Ochs(Bethalto, IL); Middle Hitters Brianna Henke (Mt. Olive, IL) and Kaitlyn Wiegand (Springfield, IL); Outside Hitter Alexis McMath (Chester, IL) and Right Side Hitter Karlie Kelly (Dongola, IL).
Together all 14 players will become one family and take on the season together. Coach Hunstein commented on how well of a cohesive unit this team is. "This team is getting along well. They are becoming a family and it is nice to see the returners embracing the new players as part of the family".
The Blackburn College Volleyball team will open up its season tonight at the Illinois College Tournament. They are set to face Knox College at 5pm and Illinois College at 7pm.