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DWU volleyball in search of wins and consistency

The search for consistency and a winning formula has been turbulent for the young Dakota Wesleyan University volleyball team halfway through the 2013 season.

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The Tigers are 4-12 and are winless in three Great Plains Athletic Conference games so far.

The Tigers have had to get by with youth this season, having just two seniors — middle hitter Elizabeth Humiston and defensive specialist Lacey Reimnitz — on the roster.

“A majority of the time we are playing freshmen and sophomores against teams filled with juniors and seniors,” Dakota Wesleyan University head volleyball coach Eric Viney said. “They are still trying to get familiar with each other.”

Defensively, Viney is pleased with the structure of his back line, but knows his team has to do better defending the net. The Tigers are averaging less than two blocks per game so far this season.

Defensive specialist Maggie Stehly leads the Tigers’ defense with 235 digs and a 95 percent receive rate

“She (Stehly) has been a really big positive and it’s clear that she is ready to advance her game,” Viney said.

On offense, the Tigers have relied on a sophomore and two freshmen to get the job done thus far.

Sara Kruse, a sophomore from George, Wis., is leading DWU in kills with 131. True freshman Taylor Spence and redshirt freshman Mallory Jark have 114 and 112 kills respectively.

“Sara and Mallory have been our go-to players and Taylor has been a nice surprise for us this year,” Viney said about his young leaders.

Spence has also added to the Tigers’ defense with 164 digs, while Jark has a team-high six blocks.

“We’re trying to find that chemistry on the court,” Viney added. “We have great energy.”

DWU is headed right into the meat of its GPAC schedule and the Tigers are currently looking to break out of a eight-game losing streak.

Things will get no easier for DWU this weekend as they head to Nebraska to take on two of the GPAC’s best.

The Tigers play No. 5-ranked Midland University at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Midland, Neb., and No. 23 Hastings College at 3 p.m. Saturday in Hastings, Neb.

“We need to start really, really strong and hopefully force a fourth or fifth game and see what happens from there,” Viney said heading into play this weekend.