The Alma College Volleyball team is a picture of success in the MIAA, yet the team is left wanting more. The Scots have won 44 league games over the past four years and have compiled an overall mark of 76-42 during that time frame. It has resulted in four straight third place finishes for Alma behind league leaders Hope and Calvin. However, the Scots are wanting to take the next step, not only in the league standings, but also on the national stage.
"For us to take the next step, we need more discipline in every aspect of our game," said Alma Head Coach Sarah Dehring. "If that does not happen, we will not be able to beat the top two teams. The second thing we need to focus on is knowing what the other team is giving us and taking advantage of it. We won't necessarily beat teams because we are bigger than them, we will win because we will pick apart what they give us."
So, the Scots enter the 2012 preseason camp with very specific goals and now are on the cusp of a new season and filled with optimism. Alma begins play on August 31 when they take on Kean University (N.J.) and Westminster College (Mo.) at the University of Dallas (Tex.) tournament.
Practices have been intense and healthy since the team reported, and the first few matches of the season will go a long ways in determining the final rotation as the team moves into league play. Dehring has been impressed by the intensity of the workouts and how it has created true competition at all spots.
At outside hitter, the Scots have five players that are all pretty close and there are two open spots available.
"Taryn McGrew has come in very strong and Kelly Maise has been a two-year starter for us and again will compete for that position," said Dehring. "Incoming freshmen Hannah Guilford and Laura Walker have done well, and Katie Bourbonnais has been strong from both sides and has been one of our best hitter in practice."
The middle hitter position has four girls vying for two spots at this point of the season.
"Lea Klooster and Becca Trosper are two-year starters, but Elisa Hobbs has really improved and you can tell she worked very hard in the summer," remarked Dehring. "Kayla Muxlo is also in the mix at the position as well."
The Scots' setting position appears to be a competition for one to two spots by three very close competitors.
"Erika VanHavel, after her injury took awhile to heal, is back at 100%, and Kelsee Miles and Tricia Smith are both nipping at her heels," said Dehring. "It is still unclear if we will run the 6-1 or the 5-2 and that is something that could change from game to game depending on whether or not we need more offense or more defense."
The team trip to Dallas is actually the culmination of a conversation the upperclassmen had with former coach Cheyenne Luzynski. She had talked with the group about a trip before they graduated and Dehring wanted to fulfill that agreement for them.
"Becca Trosper is from Texas and her parents offered us their home, so I searched out tournaments and found a competitive one at the University of Dallas," said Dehring. "Their coach actually helped us find some teams for our JV team to play while we are down there as well. It will be a good kick-off for us as we won't be playing any regional opponents, allowing us to be flexible with our lineups and see different combinations."
The MIAA schedule hits the Scots hard after they return from Texas. On Tuesday, September 4, Alma will host league foe Kalamazoo College at Art Smith Arena, beginning at 7:00 p.m. It is the first league match of what is sure to be a very competitive 2012 campaign.
"I believe that the MIAA schedule is going to be a lot tougher than last year and there are no guaranteed spots in the standings," stated Dehring. "Every match is going to be a dogfight and there are a lot of new coaches that want to make their mark."
2012 is upon the Alma College Volleyball team. The Scots will compete in two very competitive regional tournaments at Capital and Wittenberg during the season as the team looks to add to their national resume. They hope a successful run through those tournaments will propel them to the next level.