With a good amount of talent and fresh confidence, the Wheaton volleyball team has big aspirations for the 2017 season.
Believing that “confidence is key in any sport,” junior libero Jess Bosse thinks “with a confidence boost from some new positive changes we can definitely reach our max potential.”
One of those changes is the addition of Head Coach Stephanie Schmidt, who was hired by the Wheaton Athletics Department in March after Former Head Coach Brittany Smith resigned in November of last year, according to the Wheaton Athletics website. Schmidt previously coached the North Central (Minn.) volleyball team for five years.
“Coach Schmidt is an amazing coach who brings so much passion and knowledge about the game to our team,” sophomore outside hitter Madeline Moore said about the changing aspects of the upcoming season.
“Wheaton volleyball has been growing progressively stronger and more competitive in recent years, and our desire is to continue that trend,” Schmidt said.
“I think we could continue to improve both focus and consistency all around. Every athlete has “good days” and “bad days,” but I think we could improve on looking strong and focused every single game,” Moore said. There are 25 scheduled games for the 2017 season, and the team will face tough competition.
“Our vision is to become a top-25 team; to finish with a better overall record and a better conference record than last year; and to play well against our non-conference opponents,” Schmidt said. Two CCIW teams were given top-25 preseason rankings: Millikin, the defending CCIW Conference Champions, at 17th and Elmhurst at 21st, according to Schmidt.
“Elmhurst will be our toughest competition this season. The past two seasons that I have been on the court, this team is always hungry for the win,” Bosse said. According to Elmhurst College’s Athletic website, the Thunder lost to Elmhurst last year 3-1 during the regular season. The volleyball team will play Elmhurst on Oct. 16, and will meet them again in the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Championship tournament at the end of the season.
Bosse hopes the team can “give them a run for their money,” and Moore believes that both Elmhurst and Millikin will be strong CCIW teams.
According to sophomore middle hitter Ellie Brown, three freshman recruits may add new potential to the team. Moore said that she is looking forward to training and playing with the new teammates, but also mentioned that the all-around caliber of play varied game-to-game last season.
Thunder volleyball will need the freshmen and underclassmen to fill in some new gaps. “We lost some strong components to our offense, so we need some new point-scorers to step up,” Coach Schmidt said, “I want us to be a smarter team with our offensive choices.” Both Coach Schmidt and Moore reiterated the importance of better blocking as well.
The Wheaton Volleyball season will open their season with the Bluffton University Sommer Spiketacular with four matches against Kalamazoo College, Heidelberg University, Bluffton University, and Hanover College in Bluffton, Ohio on Friday, Sept. 1.