Baker’s volleyball team is set for the 2000 season
Optimism for this year's Baker University volleyball team is high as all but one starter from the 1999 season returns.
"I'm very excited about this season, because last year we were very young, so this year we have experience to compete with the older teams that beat us last season," said Kathy Kern, returning sophomore from Wamego.
The Cats will be led by key returners junior Emilee Hoffner, Ault, Colo., first-team all-conference last season, and sophomores Kern and Jackie Sommer, Bixby, Okla., both second-team all-conference players last year. Other returning starters include sophomores Jen Markovich, Kansas City, Mo., Sarah Osterhaus, Kansas City, Mo., and Tanja Baker, Parker, Colo.
"We also have good transfers coming in that will help the team a lot," Kern said.
The seven newcomers to the team this season are transfers Abby Guthmiller, sophomore, Great Bend; Kenda Williams, sophomore, Fort Scott; Nicole Nantz, freshman, Topeka; and Casey McGinley, junior, Topeka; and freshmen Elaine Meyer, Wichita; Christine Richards, Berryton; and Jill Engelken, Centralia. Their size and strong blocking skills should help the team defensively.
"These transfers are expected to help improve the team's defense and blocking game," said Kathy Allen, head volleyball coach.
The team plans to utilize both its depth and experience to improve on its fourth place conference finish last season. In 1999, the Wildcats were young, with five freshmen starting. This season, those freshmen are now sophomores with college experience ready to lead the team to a top conference finish.
"With all but one starter returning, I feel like we have a really good shot at taking first or second in conference this year," Allen said.
That is the goal of the team to focus on conference games that they feel they can win this year.
"Even though we did have a good record last year, we are looking forward to winning conference games we lost last year," Kern said. "That's our goal."
Allen also said that the team will feel the loss of volleyball standout Jessica Walters, who was conference player of the year last season. She led the Wildcats in 1999 and now will be helping coach the team as a student assistant.