Confidence grows for ACCC volleyball team

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Members of the 2009 Allen County Community College volleyball team are (left to right), front row, Whitney Glenn, Brooke Bingham, Amanda Placencia, Mandy Hug; middle row, Dani Anguish, Andrea Miller, Nicole Rockhold; back row, head coach Jessica Peters, Misty Powelson, Amy Bolen, Autumn Lamle, Suzie Fields, Jennifer House, Mindi Lozenski and coach Todd Francis.

Confidence builds confidence.
“I’m more confident in my coaching abilities this season. I’m more comfortable as head coach,” said Jessica Peters, who enters her third season as Allen County Community College head volleyball coach.
That confidence should lead to confidence among Red Devil players as they prepare for the 2009 season. The Red Devils open the season at the Butler Community College tournament Friday and Saturday in El Dorado.
The Allen County Invitational is Sept. 5 at Iola High School. Then the Red Devils hold their true home opener Sept. 9 against Coffeyville in the ACCC gym.
Confidence in their talent and abilities to propel themselves through a successful season on the court is what Peters is looking for from the Red Devils.
“I have high expectations for this season. We have gone no where but up and ‘forward’ as my girls would put it since I’ve taken over this program,” Peters said. “That comes from the work the girls in the program have put into pushing forward.”
Allen County has eight returning sophomores on its roster of 12 players. All eight sophomores got a baptism by fire a year ago as the Red Devils only had two returners on the squad.
Back on the court are Mindi Lozenski, Autumn Lamle, Suzie Fields, Jennifer House, Amy Bolen, Misty Powelson, Amanda Placencia and Brooke Bingham. The freshmen are Andrea Miller, Mandy Hug, Whitney Glenn and Nicole Rockhold.
“Our sophomores are providing strong leadership this year and they are good examples to the freshmen in terms of their work ethic and teamwork,” Peters said. “Building a team and growing the program is important to these players.”
The Red Devils were 18-24 overall last year and missed the NJCAA Division II, Region VI playoffs. They went 4-7 in the expanded Jayhawk Eastern Division of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC). There are 12 teams in the East in volleyball competition as compared to 10 in basketball.
“I believe the Jayhawk East is going to be pretty even across the board. Butler has a lot of sophomores returning like we do and Johnson County is always tough as is Cowley County,” Peters said.
Allen County has a strong attacking group of sophomore back with its top two hitters and blockers on the court. House brings the house at the net as she put down 337 kills a year ago. House, from Spring Hill, is a 5-10 outside hitter who also had 21 blocks.
Second on the hit list from last year is Bolen, a versatile hitter from outside or the right side, with 216 kills. Bolen, from Emporia, had a hitting efficiency rating of almost 21 percent at the net.
Lamle, a 5-10 middle hitter and blocker from Cache, Okla., was a major obstacle for opposing hitters last year. Lamle led ACCC with 67 blocks plus delivered 157 kills.
Fields is a 6-foot right side hitter from Holton who was second in blocks for Allen County last year with 58. She racked up 162 kills.
The steady force on the court is Lozenski as the returning setter. Lozenski was credited with 1,002 assists during the 2008 season.
Lozenski provided good defensive skills with 431 digs plus was one of the top servers for the Red Devils with 49 service aces. She also had 34 kills at the net.
“Mindi walks in the gym ready and is a vocal leader,” Peters said.
Powelson, Placencia and Bingham are defensive specialists. Bingham, from Burlingame, had 288 digs plus rotated in as a server and piled up 33 ace serves. Powelson had 296 digs and served up 24 aces. Placencia had 58 digs and four service aces.
“Those three are working for the open libero spot,” Peters said.
The libero position is a player who can rotate in for any player on the back row as a defensive player as well as serve.
Bolen, House and Fields each had over 100 digs defenisvely last year. House served up 17 aces and Bolen had 14 ace serves.
“We’re really excited about our four freshmen. Three came to our open tryout and committed to Allen then. All four newcomers should provide us with good depth,” Peters said.
Andrea Miller is a 6-foot middle hitter from Emporia “who is really fluid along the net. She should be dominating at the net with her arm swing and creating a wall as a blocker,” Peter said.
Mandy Hug and Whitney Glenn give the Red Devils depth at setter. Hug is from Mayetta and comes in as a defensive specialist and setter. Glenn has a good set of hands to help in the setting department but also is a right-side hitter.
“We’re excited to have three sets of hands (setters) to give us the option of running a 6-2 or 5-1 offense,” Peters said.
Nicole Rockhold of Oska-loosa was heavily recruited by Jayhawk Conference teams, according to Peters, and finally decided on ACCC.
“Nicole is going to be a threat to our competition offensively as well as defensively. She has a vertical that is out of this gym and is a strong leader. She is working for an outside hitting position, challenging Jennifer and Amy,” Peters said.
Dani Anguish is a freshman from Topeka, who is red-shirting this season. Peters said Anguish will be involved with the team and is the manager.
“Our players work hard every day. We want to be known as a defensive team. Our on-court communication is a strength as is our offense. Right now it is about finding the rotation which works the best on the court,” Peters said.