“Our players have made it no secret that they expect to be one of the top teams in the Southland Conference once again,” said Hernesman. “Our program goal will never change - to win a conference championship. I believe that we’ve made great strides in many areas.”
The squad returns five letter winners and welcomes six freshman in hopes of continuing the record-breaking tradition the Hernesman’s have established.
In 2012, the Lady Demons laid down a 20-13 overall record, 12-6 in the Southland to mark the program’s best season yet.
Junior Emily Johnson and freshman Natalie Jaeger look to fill a very important role at setter. Johnson put up a strong spring season this past year, while Jaeger is not afraid of risks and quick decision-making.
“Although Emily has been with us for the past two years, we have two new players at the setting position,” said Hernesman. “Emily ran our offense this past spring and has really stepped up in this role. We’re excited to see how her and Natalie will perform this season.”
“On top of the freshman coming in, we also have some upperclassmen leadership as we return three extremely talented outside hitters in Stacey DiFrancesco, Caiti O’Connell and Mackenzie Neely,” said Hernesman.
DiFrancesco led the 2012 squad in kills and aces while recording 14 double-doubles to receive First Team All-Southland Conference. Her 385 kills are fifth in the NSU single-season kills ledger and her 1,244 attempts stand at second.
O’Connell is also a strong force on the outside after recording 337 kills and posting a 3.04 kills per set average. These two returners will be joined by freshman Lauren Agan and Ashley Elrod who bring strong talent and experience to the squad.
“We return two-year starter Vanessa Coleman, full-time starter Glynna Johnson and Amanda Kunz, who made tremendous strides the past spring,” said Hernesman.
Coleman, Johnson (Glynna) and Kunz bring height and strength to the middle of the net. Johnson finished fourth in the SLC in hitting efficiency, while Coleman earned a spot in the single-season block assists list for NSU.
Kunz showed strong improvement throughout the spring season and looks to be a competitive force this season.
Junior Mackenzie Neely made a strong transition from the middle to the right side last year and will be dangerous if teams do not prepare properly, while freshman Aaliyah Smith brings natural athletic ability and room to grow on the outside.
First Team All-SLC recipient Keelie Arneson finished 2012 second in the conference in digs at 5.00 per set while breaking her own digs record after just two seasons at libero.
“Keelie is an amazing player to watch just in the way she moves and her sense of fearlessness,” said Hernesmen. “She competes really hard and is very instinctive.”
Lone senior Jessica Guitterrez brings experience and utility in her abilities to play in the back-court.
Freshman Bailey Martin joins the squad after aiding Lovejoy high school in five-straight state championships and a successful run at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships where her Junior Olympic Team won the 18-Open championship crown.
Fellow freshman Danielle Sellari brings energy and speed to the floor while also possessing strong defensive skills.
The Lady Demons host their annual Demon Digfest fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday at Point Place Marina before beginning official team practice on Monday.