GODFREY - The Trailblazers' volleyball season kicks off at
home on 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, with a match against St. Louis
Community College, but there is plenty of pre-season action
including tonight's annual intra-squad "Blue and White" scrimmage
at 6 p.m. in the George C. Terry River Bend Arena.
Other preseason scrimmages include a match against Principia
at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23 at Lewis and Clark and at 9 a.m. on
Sunday, Aug. 25 at Washington University against two Washington
split squad teams as well as McKendree and Westminster
Head Coach Jim Hunstein said he is enthusiastic about this
year's returning and new talent on the team as well as starting his
second season as head coach.
"I have a much better idea now what it takes to succeed in the
conference and region, and we have players here who can compete,"
Three returning sophomores are featured in the National Junior
College Athletics Association (NJCAA) Division II Media Guide as
top returning players in Region 24 at their positions.
Outside hitter Hannah Baker, of Granite City, is listed as the
top attacker with an average of 2.48 kills per set from last
Ashleigh Holtgrave, of Highland, is the top returning setter
with 8.38 assists per set.
Michaela Hlafka, of Bunker Hill, is top returning libero with
3.4 digs per set.
"I'm very proud of Hannah, Ashleigh, and Michaela," Hunstein said. "They worked very hard last year and earned these
accolades. This lets the rest of team know that our program is
improving and that we will be a factor in both the region and the
Competing in Region 24 as well as the Mid-West Athletic
Conference (MWAC) will be a challenge again this year. Three
of the schools have been named in the top 20 among all NJCAA teams
including No. 3 Parkland, No. 12 Lincoln Land and No. 16 Illinois
Central. Parkland and Lincoln Land are also members of the
MWAC with Lewis and Clark.
"I know those teams may be tough this year," Hunstein said. "But I know we'll be better than we were last year, so I'm
not too worried."
Hunstein said the scrimmages against university-level players
in the next few days will help his team prepare.
Washington is a perennial national championship contender and
starts the season ranked No. 7 in National College Athletic
Association (NCAA) Division III.
"These are not JV teams, but top players in every program. I
can't wait to see how well we can do in these scrimmages," Hunstein said. "This will also let our players who want to keep playing after
Lewis and Clark see what the game is like at the next level."
In addition to Baker, Holtgrave and Hlafka, other returning
sophomores include right-side hitter Alyssa Wagner, of
Edwardsville, middle hitter Lizzie Meierotto, of Brighton, and
defensive specialists Shelby Long, of Chester, and Brandy Twichell,
Joining the team as freshmen middle hitters are Ashlyn Hlafka,
of Bunker Hill, Kate Gorman, of Jerseyville, and Cammi Davis, of
Freshman outside hitters include Megan Ramsey, of Fenton, Mo.,
and Trevyn Landes, of Alton.
Right-side hitter Tarah Wallace, of Shipman, setter Heather
Spa, of Bethalto, and defensive specialist Alayna Ducahrme, of
Brighton, round out the roster.
"This is an outstanding group of young ladies," Hunstein said. "They are working hard to learn our system and are picking
things up quickly. Plus, many of them can play more than one
position, which gives us a lot of flexibility."