Young Kenyon team shows promise

There is reserved optimism surrounding the 2015 Kenyon College Ladies volleyball team. Many questions still need answered about the young squad, but second-year head coach Amanda Krampf has accelerated a rebuilding process that could have the Purple and White become the surprise team in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

One season ago, Krampf’s first at Kenyon, the Ladies posted a 6-24 record. That record alone isn’t exactly impressive, but compared to the seven combined wins in the previous two seasons it shows obvious improvement. Now that Krampf has been through her first season and has followed up with the addition of her first complete recruiting class, the ceiling for the 2015 squad has moved a little higher.

That recruiting class now numbers eight freshmen and a walk-on brings the total to nine newcomers. Some of those new faces are sure to make an immediate impact. Some may even take over starting roles. Regardless, the sheer size of the group provides the Ladies with a much more competitive atmosphere and the ability to accomplish plenty more in practices.

While Krampf and the Ladies hope the freshman class is the foundation for a successful future, they can still rely on a handful of returning players to provide on-court results and leadership. Many of those players, like Tierney McClure, Lauren Kerr and Jensen Shurbert, are just sophomores.

McClure, who led the team with 234 kills last season, was Kenyon’s lone All-North Coast Athletic Conference selection in 2014. As a freshman outside hitter, McClure also racked up 295 digs and 20 blocks. Kerr, a middle blocker, led the squad with 74 blocks and ranked second on the team, behind McClure, with 225 kills. Shurbert shared duties at setter last season and ended up dishing out 324 assists. She showed her versatility by also tallying a team-best 32 aces to go along with 138 digs.

While that trio of sophomores set up and finished off attacks, Rachael Thorson, another member of this season’s sophomore class, highlighted the team’s defensive efforts. The starting libero in 2014, Thorson produced a team-best 386 digs. She also contributed 70 assists and 25 aces.

The 2015 Ladies are definitely young, but they do have seasoned players in senior Katie Goulder and juniors Bridget Murdoch, Alexandra Hansen and Camille Pipino. Goulder was the best of that bunch last season as she stepped up her game and cranked out 91 kills and 211 digs.

Things will have to come together quickly for the Ladies as they start their season Friday night at Capital University with matches against the host Crusaders and Case Western Reserve University.