After finishing just outside of league tournament contention, the MSOE women's volleyball team is looking to make the leap into the league post-season and defy preseason expectations.
Head coach Tom Wood's squad was picked ninth in the NACC preseason poll of league coaches and sports information directors. He put together his deepest roster yet with 11 returners and 11 newcomers in hopes of leading the Raiders back to the tournament with long-term sustainability.
Senior Hannah Pekarek leads the list of returners. She earned an All-NACC award in each of her first three seasons and has continually demonstrated her all-around value to the Raiders. She finished second on the team, and fourth in the league, with 2.83 kills per set and added 3.82 digs per set. That figure was tops among NACC hitters and second overall on the squad. She also finished second on the team with 27 aces.
Pekarek is on pace for 1,000 career digs and has a chance at the 1,000-kill mark for her career.
Seniors Heather Dukat and Kaylie Butt and sophomore Megan Brock also return on the outside for MSOE. Dukat was third on the team in attacks last season, averaging 1.57 kills per set. She added 2.27 digs per set and finished fourth on the squad with 152 points. Butt tallied 0.93 kills and 2.47 digs per set. Meanwhile, Brock averaged 1.40 kills and 2.61 digs per set and showed some flashes during the season.
In the middle, senior Elsey Kohlmann headlines four returners. She's become a stalwart on the block, averaging a career-best 0.65 blocks per set last season. She also contributed 1.40 kills per set and was third with 174.0 points.
Senior Julie Zeamer, junior Sarah Williams, and sophomore Ashley Manske are also back. Zeamer logged 40 kills and 22 blocks over 45 sets and Williams finished with 30 kills and 14 blocks in 30 sets. Manske played in five sets as a freshman and registered a pair of kills.
Junior Allie Laurent is expected to drive the offense in 2018 after the graduation of the program's all-time assists leader in Abby Born. Laurent averaged just under five assists per set while splitting time with Born over her first two seasons. Last season, she averaged 5.17 per set with 21 aces and 43 kills on a .278 attack percentage.
Sophomore Erin Winter saw time setting in eight sets over three matches, tallying five aces and 13 digs as a rookie.
The Raiders will have a new figure prowling the back row as Aleah Quast graduated after leading the NACC in digs per set last season. Senior Shelby Borchardt has proven a capable libero in limited action. Last season, she averaged 4.26 digs over 35 sets, a rate which would have ranked among the top five in the league.