On the quest for a title

On the quest for a title

by Amy JohnsonStaff Writer

Iowa Conference champs. Two new records set, and four members named Iowa Conference Player of the Week. Now done with regular season play, the Storm hopes to add Conference Tournament Champions and perhaps National Champions to their list of accomplishments for the 2009 season.

“We’re playing well together,” sophomore middle hitter Megan Dunlavy said. “We trust each other a lot more. At the beginning of the season we played well individually, but just didn’t have the trust. Now that we do, we play amazing together.”

Dunlavy was Player of the Week for Oct. 18 when she helped Simpson College go 4-1 on the week. She tallied up 53 kills and nine blocks.

Senior libero Brittany Friesth, senior outside hitter Lara Gillespie and senior middle hitter Whitney Oviatt also gained recognition as Player of the Week earlier in the season.

Gillespie said that it was a nice surprise, but she doesn’t seem to dwell on it. She’s more concerned about her team.

“Winning the conference is awesome,” Gillespie said. “That was one of our major goals from the get-go-to win conference and host the tournament. It’s just great to have that championship and that all the time and work is paying off. We’ve gotten a little better at playing defense, but we still need to work on going after every ball.”

Senior setter Tara Christensen said the key to the Storm’s success is eliminating errors.

“I think we are becoming more consistent,” Christensen said. “At this point in the season, we know what we need to do, and that is to play our own game. When we do this, not many teams can compete with us.”

Christensen not only has a right to be impressed with her team, she also has reason to be proud of herself. During her last home game of the regular season, Christensen conquered another milestone by surpassing the 5,000 assists mark and becoming the first player of Simpson volleyball to reach this achievement.

“It is such a great honor and I’m very, very happy to have accomplished it,” Christensen said. “I couldn’t have done it without the stud hitters I’ve had to set to in my four years here.”

Another accomplishment came from the success of Friesth. In early September, she became Simpson’s all-time digs leader and never looked back. Friesth continues adding to her stash of digs, coming up with her season-high of 32 in the last regular season game at home.

Now, the Storm are looking ahead to tournament time. Simpson earned a first-round bye for the Iowa Conference Tournament that will take place Nov. 6-7 at Cowles Fieldhouse.

Dunlavy said that having home court advantage could work in Simpson’s favor.

“If we get fans to come (it’ll be a huge advantage),” Dunlavy said. “If no one shows up, it could be a head game for us. All the other teams expect to come here with lots of fans from Simpson, and are intimidated. But if the fans don’t show, it could be the other way around.”

Fans are fortunate to be able to watch their Storm volleyball team tear up the court this year and not have to worry about traveling.

“They’re a great bunch of girls to watch,” sophomore fan Jessica Fraser said. “They play well together and are so much fun to watch. They’ve been executing well and are playing much better as a team.”