2019 Vincennes University Team Photo
VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University Coach Gary Sien brings an experienced team into the 2019 volleyball season. He knows the Trailblazers have a shot at a memorable season.
VU is in strong shape with a great deal of incoming and returning talent, Region 24 Player of the Year Alison Smith (Oakland, Ill.) and all-region second team player Ryleigh Fidler (Linton, Ind.). VU welcomes back seven players from the 2018 team, while eight of the 15 are newcomers.
“A year ago, we had two returners out of 14, and that was a challenge,” Sien said. “Every time we look at our court this year, the majority of our players were here a year ago. I can’t remember a year where every player has had this much experience, and we have three transfers who played a year ago. It’s like having three returning players for a total of 10 returners. We have more than tripled our experience.”
The Trailblazers are coming off an outstanding 2018 season. They reached the semifinals of the NJCAA Division I District J Tournament, tied for first place in the Region 24 standings, finished as runner-up in the Region 24 Tournament and earned a 27-13 record.
Photo: 2019 VU Volleyball Team Photo
Previewing the 2019 Trailblazers
The squad has huge shoes to fill in Allison Ruddick, who led the nation with 848 digs last season and landed a spot on the all-region first team. She graduated and plays for Union College now.
Smith led the Blazers in kills with a total of 441, posted 3.24 per set and added 417 digs and 29 service aces. Fidler earned 336 kills along with 171 digs.
In addition to Smith and Fidler, the Blazers return starting middle hitters Ariana Gentzler (Paxton, Ill.) and Ryli Bobbitt (Sullivan, Ind.). Defensive specialist Brantli Lannan (Linton, Ind.), middle/right side Macy Michels (Dieterich, Ill.) and outside Grace Doane (Vincennes, Ind.) possess starting experience too.
Gentzler tallied 226 kills and 100 total blocks. Doane contributed 209 kills and 70 blocks. Bobbitt totaled 109 kills, 107 digs, 92 blocks and 30 service aces. Lannan recorded 301 digs. Michels logged 33 total blocks.
All three of VU’s transfer players bring know-how and skill.
Defensive specialist/setter Lauren McCrary (Vincennes, Ind.), middle/opposite Alexis Lashbrook (Francisco, Ind.) and middle/opposite Jaddy Duarte (Brasilia, Brazil) are transfer players. McCrary (1.63 digs per set, 4.5 assists per set) and Lashbrook (.73 blocks per set) were starters at Oakland City, while Duarte (.50 blocks per set, .74 kills per set) started at Monroe College.
The Blazers’ roster received a big lift with the addition of five freshmen: defensive specialist/outside Kacee Nicholson (Charleston, Ill.), defensive specialist/setter Savannah Grimes (Dieterich, Ill.), defensive specialist/setter Morgen Tinkle (Rockville, Ind.), middle/opposite Breanna Metzger (Tennyson, Ind.) and outside/opposite Olga Vasovic (Belgrade, Serbia).
“We are at least three deep at every position and we have a number of players who can play multiple positions,” Sien said. “We have options on top of options. Our strengths are going to be the option to put players in different positions and throw different lineups against teams we play more than one or two times. Versatility is huge.”
Sien said, “Our blocking is a strength. We’re very long and athletic. On paper our offense is going to be much more diverse than it was a year ago. We hit a little over .240 as a team. If we do our jobs that should really increase.”
The Trailblazers open the season with a road match on Aug. 22 against Wabash Valley at 7 p.m. EDT. The home opener for VU is Aug. 27 against Lincoln Trail in the P.E. Complex at 7 p.m. EDT.
VU is host of the Blazer Classic Sept. 6-7 and Showdown on the Wabash Oct. 4-5.
Sien is entering his fourth season at the helm of VU’s program. He reached 600 NJCAA wins in 2018 and has coached at the collegiate level for 34 seasons.
2019 Vincennes University Volleyball Schedule
2019 Vincennes University Volleyball Roster
Vincennes University Newsroom
Vincennes University Trailblazer Athletics
MARCIA MARTINEZ, Sports Information Director & University Life Reporter
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VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom