08/31/2010 – The 2010 Saints Volleyball team has a slogan of, “Next Level.” Last year was bitter sweet for the Saints who notched 26 victories and a second place finish in the competitive Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC), before bowing out in the semi-finals against Madonna University. The Saints had defeated Madonna a week earlier in Livonia during their regular season match, but the Crusaders had the upper hand defeating the Saints in four games in the WHAC tournament.
Coach Rawles, entering his 4th year at the helm comments, “I feel like we have gotten stronger every year that I have been here. Last year really stung when Madonna beat us in the WHAC tournament. We return five starters and this is definitely the strongest team I have coached here at Aquinas College. We need to take it to the next level.”
The Saints are led by senior Katie Vander Meer who returns after garnering back to back ‘Setter of the Year’ awards. Vander Meer is a magician on the floor and she has the ability to raise the level of her teammates with her pinpoint accuracy in running the offense. She has been a two-time WHAC All-Conference 1st team member the last two seasons and was a third team NAIA All-America last season. Rawles grins and comments, “Having Katie on the floor leading the charge is a great feeling. She has such natural ability at leading this team. She is a great setter and she is ready for her senior season.”
Vander Meer will have plenty of support this season. Four year starter Mollie Lounds will share the leadership role with Vander Meer as co-captains. Lounds, a middle hitter has steadily improved each of her years in the program. She was a 1st team WHAC All-Conference performer last year after being a member of the 2nd team All-Conference team her sophomore year. She was on the All-Freshman team her initial campaign as a Saint. This year Rawles is looking for Lounds to pick up where she left off last year. One of the most versatile athletes on the roster will be junior Chelsea Phillips. Phillips is one of the most explosive players on the team and Coach Rawles is anticipating a break out season for Phillips.
The Saints return the ‘Libero of the Year’ in junior Sara LeClair. LeClair is all over the floor and Rawles says the defense is designed for her. Also returning is junior Jessica Curtis who will provide valuable experience on the court. The Saints will have plenty of depth and talent rounding out the roster with the addition of 8 newcomers on the team. Amanda Morley, a transfer from Oakland University, will add size and a great knack for blocking. She is joined by Muskegon Community College transfer Heather Engle and six quality freshman. The pre-season will test the Saints. They will compete with some of the top NAIA programs in the nation. Coach Rawles comments, “We are playing a really tough schedule. It’s the only way we can take it to the next level. We want to compete with the very best and I am anticipating great things from this team.”