SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Lake Superior State women’s volleyball team was ranked sixth in the 2021 GLIAC North Division Women’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll as announced by the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
The Lakers received 14 points in the poll to put them behind first place Michigan Tech (60), Ferris State (52), Northern Michigan (38), Saginaw Valley State (34), and Northwood (20).
The Lake Superior State women’s volleyball team looks to build on last season’s improvements and continue its progress towards resurgence this season. The Lakers will return to the court on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Michigan Tech after more than a year since their last match. Following a 8-19 overall record (2-14 GLIAC) during the 2019 season, head coach Dave Schmidlin will guide the Lakers as he enters his fourth season in the role at Lake Superior State.
This season, the Lakers will play a conference-only schedule, playing all 14 games against Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opponents. The regular season will be spread out over seven weeks with games on back-to-back days against the same opponent. The Lakers will open the 2021 season on the road and welcome the Ferris State Bulldogs during the second weekend of the season (Feb. 26-27) to kick off their home schedule.
Last season, the Lakers posted the program’s best record since the 2011-12 season and recorded a four-game winning streak for the first time in nine seasons. Among the other notable moments of the Lake Superior State 2019 season was the team’s road win at Northern Michigan and winning a set against the No. 20 ranked Michigan Tech Huskies.
The majority of the Lakers roster will be returning this season as LSSU graduated two players: middle blocker, Caitlyn Kane and All-GLIAC honorable mention player, Amanda Reid, an outside hitter who finished her career with the Lakers near the top of many categories in the program’s record book. This year’s roster is composed of mainly sophomores and juniors as all but four student-athletes are not part of those classes.
Seniors Kyra Vezina, a defensive specialist, and Sarah Bailey, an outside hitter, will be looked upon by Coach Schmidlin for leadership on and off the floor this season. Vezina appeared in 24 matches and 80 matches last season, totaling 167 digs and 19 assists. Bailey appeared in all 27 matches during the 2019 season and was third on the team with 154 kills.
The junior class of middle hitter Bethany Wilson, middle hitter Camdyn Odykirk, setter Halle Grulke, and outside hitter Rylee Eisenga will all be key returners for this year’s Laker team. Wilson, who appeared in all 27 matches last season, ranked fourth on the team in kills with 132 and first on the team with 43 blocks. Odykirk registered the second most kills on last year’s team, and the most among returning players, with 189. Odykirk totaled a .246 hitting percentage during the 2019 season and also added 39 blocks, which was second best on the Lakers. Grulke, who also appeared in all 27 matches for the Lakers as a sophomore, posted a team-leading 679 assists which ranked 10th among all GLIAC players last season.
The Lakers will also look for contributions from this year’s sophomore class of outside hitter Kaitlyn Bishop, outside hitter Taylor Fleming, libero Sydney Briney, outside hitter Malia Howe, middle hitter Nina White, defensive specialist Katja Wilhelms, defensive specialist Kayla Wilhelms and setter Emily Kalinowski. Briney, who was the only freshman to play in all 27 matches last season, ranks first among all returning Lakers in digs last season with 209.
For more information, visit lssulakers.com
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