Change is in the air again this season for the Iowa Central volleyball program.
Fredrick Wagner has taken over the reins on the Triton bench after the departure of Bryan Crawford. Wagner has over 20 years of coaching experience at the high school, club, and college level.
"First and foremost, I've heard a lot of good things about what Iowa Central did last year," Wagner said. "We have high expectations to maintain that success and make it even better. (A Scholarship Division record four straight) NATYCAA (Cups) tells me how (the Tritons) support their athletic programs.
Photo by Paul DeCoursey
Returning players for the Iowa Central volleyball team are, left to right:?Marilyn Gutierrez, Alicia Moreno, Brittany Vaske, Nadia Morneau and Marisa Gibson.
"From a coaching aspect, all I want is a level playing field and support of the administration to let me do my job. When I started checking around, I was excited about the possibilities (at Iowa Central)."
A year ago, the Tritons set a new single-season program mark for wins (45) and advanced to the national tournament for only the third time in history, where they tied for 11th place. Iowa Central, which earned its first ever national tournament triumph in 2011, also reeled off a 28-match win streak at one point last fall, including a 42-game victory streak.
"Our goal is definitely to get back to the national tournament," said Wagner. "We're not here to play just for wins, but we want to be tough and battle-tested at the end.
2012 IOWA CENTRAL VOLLEYBALL
Sophomores - Nadia Morneau, OH, Longmont, Col.; Brittany Vaske, MB, Burt; Alicia Moreno, OH, Santo Domingo, DR; Gabriela Reyes, S, Santo Domingo, DR; Marisa Gibson, DS, Fort Dodge; Marilyn Gutierrez, DS, Perry; Meghan Tietze, OH, Castle Rock, Col.
Freshmen - Caitlin Poppen, MB, Manson; Madi Schachtner, OH, Humboldt; Shelby Schindler, MB, Algona; Rachel Drost, S, Wall Lake; Casey Barney, DS, La Porte City.
Aug. 28 - at DMACC, 6:30 p.m.; 31 - at Owens CC Tournament (Toledo, Ohio), TBA.
Sept. 1 - at Owens CC Tournament (Toledo, Ohio), TBA; 4 - at Indian Hills, 6:30 p.m.; 7 - at Kirkwood Tournament, TBA; 8 - at Kirkwood Tournament, TBA; 10 - at Grand View JV, 4:30 p.m.; 14 - at Illinois Central Tournament (East Peoria, Ill.), TBA; 15 - at Illinois Central Tournament (East Peoria, Ill.), TBA; 19 - at Ellsworth, 6 p.m.; 20 - at Central, 4 p.m.; 24 - at Iowa Western, 7 p.m.; 26 - at Southwestern, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 - DMACC, 7 p.m.; 5 - at Iowa Western Tournament, TBA; 6 - at Iowa Western Tournament, TBA; 8 - Ellsworth, 7 p.m.; 10 - NIACC, 7 p.m.; 12 - at DMACC Tournament, TBA; 13 - at DMACC Tournament, TBA; 16 - Indian Hills, 7 p.m.; 17 - at Iowa Lakes, 7 p.m.; 22 - Iowa Western, 7 p.m.; 26 - at ICCAC Volleyball Showcase (Marshalltown), TBA; 27 - at ICCAC Volleyball Showcase (Marshalltown), TBA; 30 - Region XI Tournament, TBA.
"When it comes to our schedule, I want to play the best (teams) that we can get. We might not look as good on paper and will take a few more lumps, but we'll be better for it as a result."
Iowa Central's roster features seven sophomores, led by reigning NJCAA Div. II All-American Alicia Moreno and second-team all-region XI-B picks Brittany Vaske (Algona) and Gabriela Reyes.
Moreno, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, ranked fifth nationally in kills last season with 503, which is the second-most in school history. Her 37 percent hitting efficiency was the second-highest nationally for anyone with more than 500 kills.
The Region XI-B Most Valuable Player, Conference Player of the Year and Region XI Tournament MVP also set a Triton record with 34 kills in a match against Jamestown on Sept. 10.
Vaske collected 274 kills and paced the team in blocks (143), while Reyes registered 667 assists for an average of 4.6 per set.
"We've got some expectations that Alicia can come in and do some more good things," Wagner said. "Brittany is a returning middle blocker that hit .429 last year, and of course our setter, Gabriela, did a great job last year and will move into a 5-1 (offensive) role this year."
Other familiar names back for the Tritons are Nadia Morneau (OH), Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Marisa Gibson (DS) and Marilyn Gutierrez (DS).
"One of the things we've already brought to the table differently is how we attack," said Wagner. "We want to be aggressive offensively and take a lot of swings at balls."
Caitlin Poppen (Manson Northwest Webster), Madi Schachtner (Humboldt), Shelby Schindler (Bishop Garrigan) and Rachel Drost (East Sac County) are all newcomers looking to contribute as well for Iowa Central, which settled for a runner-up conference finish last season at 8-1.
In addition to his sixth-ranked Tritons, Wagner tabbed No. 4 Iowa Lakes (35-9 overall, 9-0 in the league in 2011), 10th-rated Des Moines Area (28-15, 6-3) and Kirkwood (29-10, 7-2) as the top ICCAC contenders.
Wagner most recently served as the head women's volleyball coach at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Wagner was also previously a top assistant at the NCAA Div. I level for both Campbell University (N.C.) and Central Florida.
Assisting Wagner will be Jenn Fekpe.
Iowa Central visits DMACC tonight for a 6:30 p.m. start time. The Tritons, who own a 3-1 early-season mark, will also welcome DMACC for their home opener Oct. 2.