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Trailblazers Volleyball Enjoying a Successful Season

Article by: Jim Hunstein.

GODFREY – With a little more than half the 2015 season in the books, the Lewis and Clark Community College Trailblazers volleyball team has already surpassed the win totals for the past several seasons.

The team’s overall record is 13-7, including a 3-3 mark in the NJCAA Region 24, with two more region matches to play. They are 1-2 in the Mid-West Athletic Conference, with the three-match conference tournament remaining.

“We got off to a fast start,” said Head Coach Jim Hunstein. “We have kept pushing forward and pushing hard ever since.” 

After the first two weeks of the season, the Trailblazers were 7-2 and achieved a ranking of 19th in the country in the NJCAA national poll.

The team has only been shut out twice this season. On both occasions, the team faced MWAC opponents Parkland College, which is currently the No. 1 team in the country and Lincoln Land Community College, which is sitting fifth in the nation.  Overall, 10 of the Trailblazer’s 13 wins have been 3-0 victories. 

The three losses have come at the hands of nationally ranked teams Parkland, Lincoln Land and Illinois Central College, all of which are also regional opponents. The team has only lost to one other NJCAA Division II opponent. The other three have been to two Division I teams and one NCAA JV team.

“This is the strongest team, top to bottom, we’ve had in my time here,” said Hunstein, now in his fourth year as head volleyball coach. “We’re mentally tough as well as physically tough.  That’s made a huge difference.”

As a team, the Trailblazers have served a total of 180 aces, which puts them 10th in the NJCAA. Their average of 2.57 aces per set ranks eighth in the country. The have also earned 128 solo blocks at a rate of 2.89 per set, also 10th and eighth in the country, respectively. The team’s points earned per set (which includes points earned by aces, kills, and blocks) of 16.6 is also eights  in the NJCAA.

Sophomore outside hitter Emma Chiodini (St. Louis) leads the team with 47 aces and ranks 13th in the country, followed by sophomore libero Drew Myers (Lesterville, Missouri) with 31 aces, good for 39th, and sophomore setter Kennedy Netters (Dunlap, Illinois) with 19 aces.

Freshmen middle hitters Becca Bowlin (Dunlap, Illinois) and Denae White (New Athens, Illinois) lead the team in blocking with 73 total blocks and 69 total blocks, respectively.  White leads with 35 solo blocks, and ranks 20th in the NJCAA, while Bowlin has 32 solos, good for 25th.

Freshman outside hitter Brooke Hustedde (Trenton, Illinois) leads the team with 193 kills followed by Chiodini with 164 and freshman outside/rightside hitter Molly Stumpf (Alhambra, Illinois) with 151. These three are also the team leaders in total points (aces, kills, and total blocks); Chiodini has 241 points followed closely by Hustedde with 234.5 points and Stumpf with 191 points.

“We’ve had players put up nice numbers in the past,” Hunstein said. “Now the points are translating into wins for the team. We still have a lot of volleyball to play, but we’re certainly headed in the right direction.”

Next up will be the final two Region 24 matches, when the Trailblazers host Frontier College on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and Southwestern Illinois College on Thursday, Oct. 8. Both matches begin at 6p.m. in the George C. Terry River Bend Arena.

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