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Uphill battle for Beaver volleyball team

Monday, August 20, 2012

Alta alum Courtney Van Haaften returns to lead the Beaver volleyball team after turning in 9.32 sets per game in league play last year. BVU was 9-23 and 0-8 in the IIAC.
CEDAR RAPIDS - Wartburg College, which finished second in the league race last season with no seniors on its roster, is the unanimous pick of the coaches to win the 2012 Iowa Conference volleyball title. The Knights received all seven available first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own teams) for 56 points.

Defending champion Coe College, which swept through the league schedule after being picked sixth in last year's poll, received Wartburg's first-place vote, was the number two pick on five ballots and took third on another to rank second in this year's poll with 49 points.

Perennial IIAC contender Central College ranks third with 42 points just ahead of Loras College. The Duhawks, with a pair of second-place votes, are fourth with 37 points. The complete 2012 IIAC Volleyball Coaches' Poll follows.

Rank Points 2011 Record

1 Wartburg (7) 56 24-11, 7-1
2 Coe (1) 49 31-4, 8-0
3 Central 42 24-11, 4-4
4 Loras 37 10-23, 4-4
5 Luther 30 17-14, 2-6
6 Simpson 29 14-18, 3-5
7 Dubuque 22 16-18, 3-5
8 BVU 15 9-23, 0-8

Buena Vista returns three starters and six letter winners from last year's 9-23 team that finished ninth in the Conference with an 0-8 record. The Beavers will be led by sophomore setter Courtney Van Haaften, who ranked second among all Iowa Conference players in assists. She posted 1193 for a 9.32 per-set average. In league play, Van Haaften ranked fourth, averaging 8.34 assists per set. She also led the team with 32 service aces and was fourth in digs with 253. Outside hitter Kirsten VanZuiden, a fellow sophomore, is the Beavers' top returning offensive threat. VanZuiden ranked second on the team in kills with 353, fourth in total blocks with 49 and sixth in digs with 117.

Junior middle blocker/outside hitter Chelsea Clayton played in 28 sets a year ago, recording 28 kills, 16 total blocks, eight digs, four assists and one service ace.

Buena Vista head coach Lori Slight says, "Being brand new this year we are going to have to learn on the fly so to speak. We will be a really young team and will have see how we work together. Looking at the past stats we are going to have great competition every night so we will have to come together quickly if we are going to compete in the conference."

Slight is replacing Heather Noll. Slight spent the last five years in the prep ranks at Creston (2010-2011) and Sioux City Bishop Heelan (2007-2009). She also has seven years of head coaching experience at the collegiate level, spending four years at Des Moines Area Community College (1999-2002) followed by three at NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri State (2003-05). Slight was also an assistant at Buena Vista for two seasons (1996-97).

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