The 2009 Knox College volleyball team (1-1) has eight newcomers and only four returning players from last year’s team that finished 4-15 overall.
“I think we’re in a progress stage,” said Kim Schrader, in her third season as the head coach of the Prairie Fire. “We have a large first year class, so we’re young. They’re definitely the strength of the future. With that youth, we’re really looking to improve every time we step on the floor.”
Sophomore Kelly Ricketts, a 2007 Galesburg High School graduate, leads the group of newbies. She transferred to Knox from the University of St. Francis, located in Joliet, Ill., where she competed for the Lady Saints last season.
“Kelly Ricketts will add leadership, even coming in as a transfer,” Schrader said. “We’ll play an offense where (senior) Karen Frost is on the floor all the time; she’s really the quarterback of the offense when she’s on offense. Also, (sophomore) Lisa Blagg will take an increased leadership role as the libero.”
Ricketts and the rest of the new Prairie Fire will try to fill the void of junior outside hitter Katarina Schulte, a 2008-09 All-Midwest Conference First Team player, who led the Prairie Fire in kills, kills per game, total attempts and tied for the team lead in service aces.
“Katarina was a great player, but we knew she’d only be here for one year,” Schrader said. “We have a very solid first-year class, and it would have been nice to have her back, but I feel like everyone we have coming in has a definite role.”
Every Prairie Fire volleyball player has a role and has progressed since the start of practice.
“I’m very happy with the progress we’ve had as a team,” Schrader said. “Probably the biggest surprise has been everyone coming in with a very adamant willingness to work hard and get better.”