Volleyball must replace three players who could have returned this season
With the graduation of outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre, middle blocker Hallie Enderle and setter Danielle Thompson, the CMU women’s volleyball team was expected to lose only those three players this season.
They did not expect to lose three more players.
Would-be senior defensive specialists Kristen Reenders and Nicole Czehowski are both no longer with the program for undisclosed reasons, while would-be sophomore setter Kylie Copple transferred to Portland State University.
The biggest loss among these three players is Reenders, the starting libero for the Chippewas last season. She was one of two players who appeared in every set in 2014. Head Coach Erik Olson declined to comment on why Reenders is no longer on the roster, but CMU will have to replace the team-high 517 digs she provided last season.
The Chippewas currently have four defensive specialists on their roster: Freshmen Jamison Wolffis and Emily Wenglikowski, sophomore Courtney Hiltibran and senior Haley Barker.
Wolffis started as the libero for the Maroon team in the team’s annual Maroon and Gold scrimmage and recorded five digs. She prepped at East Grand Rapids High School, winning a state championship her junior year and was named a Defensive Dandy by prepvolleyball.com.
She also was ranked a top 250 prospect by the same website.
Despite being a freshman, Wolffis feels no pressure in replacing Reenders as she understands she will have help available.
“There’s three other defensive specialists,” Wolffis said. “We’re all working together and helping each other get better. It’s been great.”
Olson said that when he saw Wolffis in high school, he said that her efficiency level was about 95 percent in terms of success from high school to the college game.
“(Wolffis has) been (playing with efficiency) all preseason,” Olson said. “I’m not surprised with how she performed (in the maroon and gold scrimmage).”
Barker will be the senior leader of the position group. Olson said that her “lightbulb” clicked last season and has played well since then.
Referred to by her teammates as “mom,” Barker has been doing her part in helping her younger teammates get adjusted.
“Jamie has done a great job this past week of just learning (the system) and absorbing it, which is awesome,” Barker said. “Courtney and Emily have been doing an amazing job. I’ve been really teaching them about our system and our expectations as defensive specialists.”
Hiltibran recorded 79 digs last season for the Chippewas while Wenglikowski set the Leo High School (Indiana) record with 397 kills last season.
Despite losing Reenders and Czehowski, Olson hopes this quartet of defensive specialists can provide the same production.
“(Our defensive specialists have) never brought up balls quite like we have,” Olson said. “We’re playing very disciplined.”