Cyclones set for new season

Emily Arthur

After finishing last season with a 2-27 record, head volleyball coach Linda Crum is hoping that a new attitude and a strong team structure will bring success to a program which hasn’t seen a winning season in five years.

“In terms of my third year of being here, we feel like there’s a real foundation underneath our program,” she said. “We went through a couple years where we worked with what we had. I think right now you’re starting to see the kind of student-athletes and athletes we want in our program.”

Crum will return eight letterwinners to a young team which includes no seniors.

Junior outside hitter Mandi Harms and junior setter Sara Stribe are expected to step up and provide leadership for the Cyclones.

“Everyone’s focused on the same goal and that’s volleyball,” Harms said. “We realize now what we have to do with volleyball, and what we have to give up. Everyone’s taken it upon themselves to do that.”

With the exception of Harms and Stribe, the ISU lineup will be composed of all sophomores and freshmen.

Sophomore outside hitters Renae Pruess and Dana Koziol are returning to the Cyclones along with middle blockers Julie Mitchell and Steph Suntken, setter Lindsey Chapman and defensive specialist April Gerloff.

These six were forced to step in right away last year, because of a lack of depth.

Crum said she’s counting on this sophomore class to continue on the improvement they showed last year as well as give the team more options to go to.

“I think that’s the difference this year,” she said. “We’re going to have more balance.”

Crum also said she’s expecting the freshmen to step in right away and help immediately. Newcomers for the Cyclones consist of Brittany Dalager, Christine Smeele, Michelle Blessington and Ashlee McWee.

“I think a lot of them will come in and be impacts right away,” Crum said. “That’s the nature of where their skill is and their ability level. I think that they’re going to be real exciting to watch.”

The Cyclones begin action on Friday night when they meet Western Illinois in the ISU Heritage Classic. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Both Harms and Stribe are anxiously anticipating the start to a new season.

“We’ll just take the season a small step at a time, game by game,” Stribe said. “We’ll see how it goes. All I know is that we’re really excited to start the season.”