ADRIAN, Mich. - The time is now for the 2011 Adrian College women's volleyball team. Guided by third-year head coach Elisa Joris, the rejuvenated squad looks to make its presence felt in the middle tier of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Bringing back six starters and eight letterwinners, the Lady Bulldogs have experience and team chemistry in their favor; two very important ingredients to make a splash in conference play.
"We should be in the upper-half of the conference", said Joris. "I still think Calvin and Hope will be holding those top two records and Alma is right behind them. We'll be competing with Kalamazoo, Trine, and Olivet for that fourth spot. It just depends on who comes out strongest this season."
Since taking over the program in 2009, Joris has increased her win total every year.
"I contribute it to that I'm getting my own recruits in here that play for my philosophy and also that we have a really young team," Joris stated. "In my first year we had four freshmen on the court. Last year we had three freshmen starting. They're getting chemistry together and building as a team, so definitely this year we'll be increasing our win total again."
A major part in in that chemistry is last year's team Most Valuable Player and two-year captain senior Roxanne Duran. A year ago, Duran led the defense in digs (310). She also earned a team-best 36 aces, averaging .38 a contest which ranked second in the conference.
Classmate Joanna Slisinger completes the senior duo and looks to make an impact while building off last year. "Jo got to learn the offense as a junior, so she'll hopefully be able to run it more efficiently her senior year," said Joris.
Also bringing in experience as returners are junior middle hitter Stephanie Holloman and sophomore Danielle Bogedin who have five years combined of starting action.
"Bogedin complimented All-MIAA Rebecca Tincknell last year on the court," Joris said. "Rebecca (who led the team with 280 kills) will obviously be missed, but this year we're hoping to spread the offense a little bit more and have a couple more kids taking swings"
Adrian's recruiting efforts in the offseason concentrated on adding height to the lineup. "I'm really excited that we have some kids that are energetic and that they'll put up some big blocks and really spark the offense," said Joris.
The Adrian community and student body involvement can be an imperative part in the team's success this season.
"We've had games before when we have had a couple hundred people come in on their feet cheering and the girls feed into that and play at a higher level," mentioned Joris. "At the same time, when the stands are quiet, the girls kind of play a quieter volleyball."