The Blackburn College Women’s Volleyball Team is pleased to introduce its nine new members for the 2017 season. This is one of the largest incoming groups in recent history, but head coach Jim Hunstein feels certain they will all have an immediate impact on the squad. “Nine is certainly a lot to bring in for one class,” Hunstein says, “but it was critical to add depth and competition at every position. We didn’t have that last year so it limited a lot of our options.”
The Beavers were 1-27 last year, so an influx of talent can only help.
Joining the team are freshmen Kendall Burleyson, setter from Kinmundy, IL (South central High School); Brianne Henke, middle hitter from Mt. Olive, IL (Mt. Olive High School); Alyssa Keith, setter and defensive specialist from Chester, IL (Chester High School); Karlie Kelley, rightside hitter from Dongola, IL (Dongola High School); Alexis McMath, outside hitter from Chester, IL (Chester High School); Drew Newberry, libero/defensive specialist from Decatur, IL (Meridian High School); Annika Ochs, libero/defensive specialist from Bethalto, IL (Civic Memorial High School); and Kaitlyn Wiegand, outside hitter from Springfield, IL (Springfield Lutheran High School).
Rounding out the field is junior Kendall Knop, a transfer from Lincoln Land Community College where she twice finished second in the country. Knop, a libero/defensive specialist, is from Stewardson, IL (Stewardson-Strassburg High School).
They will be joining five returners from last year’s campaign. They include senior Lexi Dick, libero from De Land, IL (De Land High School); senior Delanie Casto, rightside hitter, from Pittsfield, IL (Pittsfield High School); junior Jensen Ballinger, setter, from Vincennes, IN (Lincoln High School); junior Emily Schroeder, outside hitter, from St. Louis, MO (Lutheran North High School); and junior Shelsie Timmermeier, middle hitter, from Litchfield, IL (Gillespie High School).
As is typical with the spirit of cooperation among Blackburn sports, these players will benefit other teams as well. Incoming freshmen Henke and Ochs also plan to play basketball. Returner Ballinger plans to return to the softball team again this year.
The volleyball season gets underway with the first practice on August 18, the first day according to NCAA rules. To make it fun, practice will start at 12:01 AM. “Everyone loves the idea of ‘Midnight Volleyball,’” says second-year coach Hunstein. “That is, until they have to get up for a second practice later that day. But it’s a great way to kick off the year.”