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Cullen Maksimowski, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.—The Lake Superior State volleyball team will open its 2018 campaign this weekend (Aug.24-25) as they travel to Big Rapids, Mich. To take part in the Ferris State Volleyball Invitational.
The Lakers will play four non-conference matches on the weekend taking on Upper Iowa (2 p.m.) Rollins (6 p.m.) on Friday followed by Mercyhurst (11:30 a.m.) and Clarion (2 p.m.) on Saturday.
The Lake State roster will have a much different look than it did a season ago under second-year head coach, Dave Schmidlin. After graduating six seniors from last year's starting rotation, a total of eight freshman join the program in 2018 representing Schmidlin's first recruiting class.
Kelly Walter (middle blocker), Camdyn Odykirk (middle blocker), Peyton Vandegrift (defensive specialist), Nina White (middle Hitter), Halle Grulke (setter), Bethany Wilson (middle blocker), Katja Wilhelms (defensive specialist) and Abby Beachnau (libero) comprise the group of newcomers for the Lakers.
"We're looking to set a foundation for the future with our eight incoming players this fall," said Schmidlin. "We have an opportunity to really rebuild and rebrand the program. The incoming kids have high expectations, our returners have high expectations and there is a lot of excitement within our group right now and I want to capture that and build upon that as much as we can."
Aiding in the development of this year's freshman class will be the group seniors and juniors who will be expected to play key leadership roles both on and off the court this season. Lauren Lukasik (setter), Morgan Kelley (outside hitter), Paige Gotham (libero) and Mikala Williams (defensive specialist) make up the Lakers senior class followed by juniors Amanda Reid (outside hitter) and Caitlyn Kane (middle blocker).
"When we left last spring I tasked the upperclassman with accepting a mentorship role with this incoming class," Schmidlin said. "From what I've gathered, they've all done a really good job with that and have really embraced the role and are trying to make that transition for our freshman easier.
"On the flipside, I think (the upperclassman) have done a great job preparing themselves both physically and mentally during the spring semester and over the summer to get us off to a strong start this season."
Offensively, Lake State will look to Reid to provide a heavy punch at the outside hitter position after she led the team in kills (218) and ranked No.2 in kills per set (2.53) last season. Sophomore Kyra Vezina will also play a key role on offense after finishing No.3 on the team in kills (113) as a freshman.
On the defensive side, the Lakers will be anchored by Gotham, who led the team in digs (429) and ranked No.1 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with 5.30 digs per set. At middle blocker, Kane returns to the lineup after ranking No.4 on the team in total blocks as a sophomore.
The Lakers will open their home and conference schedule on Sept. 7 with a matchup against Northern Michigan at 6:30 p.m. For ticket information, visit lssulakers.com or calls the ticket office at 906-635-2601.
Volleyball Heads to Ferris State for Opening Weekend
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