“The thing about this upcoming season is that our roster has some flexibility that we haven’t had in the past and we’ve got competition in all of the positions,” said Hernesman. “Additionally, a year of strength and agility training for such a young group can completely change the gym and how it looks.”
The addition of more height has also amplified the confidence of the NSU volleyball team as it looks to improve upon last season’s record of 10-20 and earn a bid in the Southland Conference Tournament for the second year in a row.
“Having Glynna (Johnson) on the team is new for us because she is obviously our tallest player at 6-3,” said sophomore outside hitter Stacey DiFrancesco, last year’s Southland Conference Freshman of the Year. “Last year we really didn’t have that much height and her coming in gives us a huge block.”
The Lady Demons also add freshman Amanda Kunz, 6-1, and bring back redshirt-freshman Caiti O’Connell, 6-1, to increase their average height by about two inches.
The returning players are also excited to see what improvements will be made this season as senior Nicole Hajka stated on Wednesday afternoon:
“Honestly, the gym culture is great. Everyone is hard working and gives their best effort,” said Hajka. “I hope that we can make it to the conference tournament again and maybe win it this year. We were the eight seed last year so hopefully we can get a higher seed this season.”
Once again, NSU has scheduled some challenging matches for the 2012 campaign. In order to improve their level of play, the Lady Demons will go up against three top-50 RPI teams and five top-100 RPI teams.
“Over the years, our conference champion has been in the 50-75 RPI range, so we schedule these tough matches intentionally to show our players what it looks like and what it takes to compete in the conference tournament,” said Hernesman.
NSU kicks off the season against Kansas in the Arkansas Invitational on Aug. 24.
The Lady Demons play their home opener against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. in Prather Coliseum.