| 2011 Volleyball Season Preview |
The 2010 University of St. Thomas Lady Celt’s Volleyball team came into the season prepared to three-peat as conference champions and to return to the NAIA Championship Tournament. Both of those goals came to fruition with three set wins in the A.I.I. Conference Championships final day. With the departure of six starters, second-year Head Coach Trent Herman, believes his team with six new players is ready for the challenges of joining the Red River Conference and getting back to the NAIA National Championships.
“With the work our team put in during this spring and summer, I think they understand what it is going to take to make the next step on a national level,” Herman says. “After three straight trips to the NAIA National Championships, the team is looking forward to the change to the Red River Conference.”
The Lady Celts only return two starters from a team that set a school record with 24 wins. “We will have to work our talented new recruits in with our returning upperclassmen quickly,” Herman said.
Replacing Casey Mulryan, Honorable Mention All-American, All-Region, and A.I.I. Player of the Year middle blocker and All-Conference selections Mallory Wendel and Lauren Poe is one of Herman’s top priority. With talented players from last year’s squad and the exciting newcomers, Herman said he has multiple options for the 2011 season.
Topping the list of talented returning players is senior libero Brittany Downs and sophomore right side hitter Evon Welch. Brittany Downs is one of the country’s best liberos. Downs was selected to the All-Conference Team and was ranked 25th in nation with 700 digs. Evon Welch was a key to a senior dominated team as a freshman. Welch had 127 kills and 48 blocks. Additional talented returning starters for the Lady Celts include senior right side/outside hitter Catherine Loth, sophomore outside hitter Kirsten Kubicek, sophomore defensive specialist Shirley Paul, junior setter Kayla Weaver and junior defensive specialist Monica Litle.
“These five returning upperclassmen bring a great deal of leadership and experience to our team,” Herman said. “Catherine brings great leadership and passion to the floor. Kirsten brings a load of experience to the outside hitter position after playing in 31 matches as a true freshman. Shirley brings stable back row play. She is one of the hardest working players on the team. Kayla is ready to run the team as a setter with the departure of senior setters Sarah Curiel-Thompson and Courtney Johnson. She has worked really hard this spring and summer. Monica is calming influence in the backrow. She makes key plays and is always ready when needed.”
The Lady Celts also welcome six new players to the team who should add depth to an already strong core group and push for playing time right away. Fresh from San Jacinto Community College 2nd place finish at the Junior College National Championships , transfers students Brittany Weiler, setter, and Lauren Curley, middle blocker, bring big match experience to an already experienced team. Division I transfers, outside hitter Stephanie Biediger and right side hitter Regina Trapp will bring firepower at the pins for the Celts. International student Kelsey Balderamos from Beliz looks to make an impact on the outside with her international experience. While freshman middle blocker, Kylah Dias, looks to make an impact in the middle.
“This is going to be an exciting season with so many changes to our team and the change to the Red River Conference,” Herman said. “We have to find a way to work our new players into our system very quickly to be ready for our difficult schedule. We need to be tested through the course of the year. There is a great feel to this team with the chemistry and togetherness they have developed this summer through workouts. They are focused on the same goals and understand it will take all 13 of them to succeed.”