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Senior-laden group to lead Tigers' volleyball team

Lindsay Wilber has something she hasn't had much of during her time at Dakota Wesleyan University as the Tigers' volleyball coach--seniors. The team has 28 players on the roster, which is the most during Wilber's three-year stint as the squad's h...

Dakota Wesleyan University's Lauren Tadlock (8) hits the ball over the net during a game against Doane last season in Mitchell. (Republic file photo)
Dakota Wesleyan University's Lauren Tadlock (8) hits the ball over the net during a game against Doane last season in Mitchell. (Republic file photo)

Lindsay Wilber has something she hasn't had much of during her time at Dakota Wesleyan University as the Tigers' volleyball coach-seniors.

The team has 28 players on the roster, which is the most during Wilber's three-year stint as the squad's head coach and the Tigers' seven seniors make up one-fourth of the roster.

That's after having one senior a year ago and no seniors on the 2014 version of the team.

"You can tell in the gym I have seven seniors, just because the leadership," said the head coach Wilber, whose team went 11-20 overall last season and 2-14 in the tough Great Plains Athletic Conference, which has five teams in the NAIA preseason top-25 poll.

The top returning senior is Lauren Tadlock, who was an All-Great Plains Athletic Conference second-team selection last season. The outside hitter was second in the league in kills last season (436). She also ranks eighth on the school's all-time kills list with 781 and could reach 1,000 this season with another strong year.

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"Lauren Tadlock will be our go-to," Wilber said. "She has been the starting outside for three years and she plays all six rotations. She put so much time in the offseason to make herself better. I am really excited to how she is going to do this year."

The Tigers also return senior starting setter Michelle Van Epps, who led the team with 978 assists last season and Wilber said her impact doesn't stop there.

"She is just a really, really good leader," Wilber said. "Lauren is a good leader, too. Michelle is a more vocal captain. She is our leader on the court."

Senior Taylor Spence, who pounded out 208 kills last season as an outside hitter, will move to a defensive role this year. Spencer and sophomore Leslie Carsrud will battle for the starting libero position vacated by Maggie Stehly, who exhausted her college eligibility.

Right-side hitter and Mitchell graduate Dana Misiaszek, setter Emily Pengilly, outside hitter Marissa Soderberg and outside hitter/middle blocker Shelbie Budmayr round out the senior class.

"They have all played for three years under me," Wilber added about the group. "So it is kind of like this is our year to hopefully make a good step in the right direction."

The Tigers also have 13 newcomers on the roster, including 11 incoming freshmen.

"The talent level of my freshmen class that is in right now is really good," Wilber said.

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Wilber said as many as six freshmen will suit up for varsity matches, with one standing out so far in fall practices.

"Becky Frick from Yankton, she has been unstoppable in the gym already," said Wilber, about the 5-foot-11 outside hitter, who was a two-time second-team all-state player.

The Tigers also bring in a couple of transfers in Katie Vetch and Kimberly VanBockern. Vetch, a junior middle blocker, was with DWU two years ago and then decided to attend South Dakota State University as a student. VanBockern also spent last school year at SDSU as a student, but the former first-team all-stater from Arlington decided to join the Tigers in July. The outside hitter has been impressive so far.

"It has taken her a little while to get back," Wilber said, "but she is really athletic and bouncy."

That is also how Wilber sums up her team in general this season.

"We really are athletic," she said. "My six that will be on the court are fast and quick and athletic and we are becoming more powerful. You can just tell that they played together now. So the flow is a lot better than it was even last year."

The Tigers will open their season Saturday at the Grace University Triangular in Omaha, Nebraska. DWU's home opener is 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 vs. Mount Marty at the Corn Palace. It is one of eight home matches at the venue, up from five last season. The Tigers will also play five home matches at the Christen Family Athletic Center this year.

Wilber said more home matches would have been scheduled at the Corn Palace, but there were scheduling conflicts in October.

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SCHEDULE

AUGUST-27, at Grace University Triangular; vs. Waldorf; vs.Grace; 30, vs. Mount Marty.

SEPTEMBER-2-3, Corn Palace Classic; 2, vs. Dickinson State; vs. Clarke University; 3, vs. Valley City State; 6, at Dakota State; 7, at Morningside; 9-10, at Omaha, Neb.; 9, vs. Grace, vs. Presentation College; 10, vs. Central Christian, vs. William Penn; 13, vs. Dordt; 14, at Presentation College; 20, at Presentation College; 20, vs. Dakota State; 21, at Northwestern; 24, vs. College of Saint Mary; 27, vs. Morningside.

OCTOBER-1, at Doane; 5, at Briar Cliff; 8, vs. Midland University; 11, at Mount Marty College; 14-15, at Mayville Triangular; 14, vs. Mayville State; 15, vs. Valley City State; 19, vs. Northwestern; 21, vs. Presentation College; 22, vs. Hastings; 26, at Dordt; 29, vs. Central Christian at Concordia, Neb.

NOVEMBER-2, vs. Briar Cliff; 5, at College of Saint Mary.

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
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