Storm volleyball continues its reign on the court

by Derek SchutjerStaff Writer

With school work back in full swing, the volleyball season is returning to action with much excitement surrounding this year’s squad.

After graduating no seniors from last year’s team, every player is back and sporting another year’s experience under their belts with new-found leadership and confidence.

Among the senior leadership is 6-foot middle hitter Jayna Fischbach. Fischbach, who recently eclipsed the 1000 kill mark during a showdown with Central, has become the eleventh Simpson College player to do so. She and her fellow teammates have set high goals as a team and expect to be playing deep into the postseason.

“We really want to win the conference and take the conference tournament,” Fischbach said. “In order to make it to the national tournament, we are looking to go beyond the first few games.”

As with every college team, Storm volleyball has also been bitten by the injury bug. Two of this year’s outside hitters, Maggie Schuttler and Amanda Norelius, have been hindered by shoulder injuries.

Schuttler, a junior from Algona, has battled through shoulder problems over the past two years and is now having surgery to repair them.

While Schuttler is preparing for surgery, Norelius is recovering on the sidelines. After last season, the 6-foot-2-inch senior from Ankeny went through surgery on her hitting shoulder.

“We are missing two of our good hitters, but we are lucky enough to have girls that are stepping up to the plate,” junior setter Tara Christensen said.

One player who has been stepping up so far for the Storm is junior outside hitter Laura Gillespie. Gillespie has proven herself, finishing with eight kills and 10 digs in the early season victory over Central.

The Storm plan on achieving this year’s postseason goals, not only through their more experienced players, but through this year’s upcoming freshmen. The positive attitudes from these new faces on the court have helped push the upperclassmen to compete for positions.

Some are putting forth more than just great attitudes, however. Megan Dunlavy, a 5-foot-10-inch freshman from Bettendorf, has been a main contributor for the Storm already this season.

“The freshmen that came in this year are amazing,” Norelius said. “I am really impressed, and everyone else got that much better over the summer.”

This year the team is hungry for more than what they had to settle for last season. Less than a year ago they were left wanting more, which Christensen is hoping will propel them the entire way through this season.

“Last year we started off with a bang but drifted off during the midseason,” Christensen said. “This year we want to start strong but finish much stronger.”

The Storm look to build upon their defense in each game.

“We have a strong offense with a lot of good hitters that can come through for us,” Christensen said. “But one thing we can always work on is defense. You never want to quit improving on defense.”

After the first five games of play the Storm are staying true to their offensive fire power with almost twice as many kills as their opponents. This weekend they host the Simpson Invitational here in Indianola. Games are scheduled for Friday night at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with games Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.