There are several new faces on the Northern State volleyball roster, including at the top.
Brent Aldridge takes over as the NSU volleyball head coach after Lisa Schriver retired after 15 seasons as the Wolves' head coach. Aldridge welcomes back eight returners and brings in eight newcomers.
We are trying to integrate some new kids, Aldridge said, and I think the returners that I have from the spring have done a real nice job making those new kids feel part of the team and part of the process.
Aldridge inherits a team that went 14-15 overall and 6-14 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play last season. The Wolves return some quality hitters. Kaili Aiono is a senior middle blocker, who was tabbed as the Wolves' player to watch in the NSIC preseason release.
Amber Bloom returns for her senior season after having last season cut short due to a knee injury. The outside hitter was having an all-conference type of season before her knee injury.
Other top returning hitters include senior middle blocker Claire Kopfmann, senior outside hitter Konefesi Vaisigano, sophomore middle blocker Paula Martins and sophomore outside hitter Carli Peterson.
There is a little more depth, Aldridge said. We have four middles, two new kids and then two returners and four to five outside. We have some depth in case we are kind of dinged up. In practice, we have had some good competition.
Sophomore Courtney Carmichael and freshman Morgan Richardson are competing for the setter spot after four-year starter Megan Gilbraith graduated. Carmichael transferred back to Northern after attending the University of South Dakota last year, where she did not play volleyball. The Rapid City Central product spent the 2009 season with the Wolves.
They are in this nice little setter battle and I think it is great, Aldridge said. They are trying to understand the offense I want to run.
Aberdeen Central graduate Ella Campbell and Milbank graduate Sami Nygaard are competing for the starting defensive specialist spot.
They are battling for the libero jersey and I'm glad that I had them both last spring, Aldridge said. We have got some leadership and some communication. It is a real big responsibility for that position. It is a competition to see who gets the jersey and they are working hard because they both want it.
Newcomer Chelsea Chavez, who transferred from South Mountain Community College in Arizona, will be in the mix for a starting position in the middle said Aldridge. Other top newcomers expected to contribute include: sisters Amanda and Emma Filiaga, Macy Finizio, Emeline Tuakalau and Kortney Morrin.
Northern State opens its season on Friday, Sept. 2, at the University of Nebraska-Omaha Showcase. The Wolves' home opener is Tuesday, Sept. 13 vs. Minnesota-Duluth at 7 p.m. at Wachs Arena.
September - 2-3, at University of Nebraska-Omaha Showcase; 2, vs. Southeastern Oklahoma State, 10:30 a.m.; 2, vs. Northwest Missouri State, 4:30 p.m.; 3, vs. Nebraska-Omaha, noon; 3, vs. Arkansas-Ft. Smith, 4 p.m.; 9-10, at Minnesota State-Moorhead Invite; 9, vs. Minnesota State-Moorhead, 1 p.m.; 9, vs. Minnesota-Crookston, 6 p.m.; 10, vs. Minot State, 3 p.m.; 13, vs. Minnesota-Duluth, 7 p.m.; 16, at Concordia-St. Paul, 7 p.m.; 17, at St. Cloud State, 4 p.m.; 23, at Wayne State, 7 p.m.; 24, at Augustana College, 3 p.m.; 30, vs. Upper Iowa, 7 p.m.
October - 1, vs. Winona State, 3 p.m.; 7, vs. Minnesota-Crookston, 7 p.m.; 8, vs. Minnesota State-Moorhead, 6 p.m.; 11, at Minnesota-Crookston, 7 p.m.; 15, vs. Mary, 6 p.m.; 18, at Mary, 7 p.m.; 21, vs. Wayne State, 7 p.m.; 22, vs. Augustana College, 3 p.m.; 28, at Minnesota-Duluth, 7 p.m.; 29, at Bemidji State, 3 p.m.
November - 4, at Minnesota State, Mankato, 7 p.m.; 5, at Southwest Minnesota State, 3 p.m.; 11, vs. Concordia-St. Paul, 7 p.m.; 12, vs. St. Cloud State, 5 p.m.