Since finishing up the 2012 season with a loss in the NCAA tournament’s first round, Marquette volleyball coach Bond Shymansky has had quite the busy offseason. From coaching changes to new recruits, Shymansky has worked to hold his influx program to the same standard it established in successful 2011 and 2012 campaigns. Here are a few of the things Shymansky has on his plate heading into the 2013 spring season:
Simpson, Allen first new assistants in Shymansky’s Marquette tenure
With the departures of former assistant coaches Michaela Franklin (head coach, Wisconsin-Green Bay) and Craig Dyer (assistant coach, Pittsburgh), Shymansky needed to hire two new assistant coaches to fill out his staff.
“There’s a natural cycle that happens inside of a program,” Shymansky said. “The fun part for me then is the fresh start. We have two new people in house, and there’s a lot of good energy and good momentum. They are excited to work hard and win.”
Last week, Shymansky tabbed Jackie Simpson and Jason Allen as those two new coaches.
Simpson, a former all-American setter at Wisconsin-Madison, most recently served as an assistant coach at East Carolina. She also coached at Winona College and at Oregon High School in Wisconsin.
Allen, who played collegiately at Oklahoma Baptist, spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach for Iowa, Shymansky’s alma mater. He previously was an assistant at Sam Houston State and Southwest Minnesota State.
“Jason and Jackie are good complements to each other,” Shymansky said. “They both have a lot of Big 10 experience, both have coaching and high-level play experience. Things like that are a big asset to us.”
Hole in the middle
In 2012, Marquette relied on middle hitters Dani Carlson and Kelsey Mattai for consistent efficiency on offense and a solid block defensively. With both graduated and backup middle hitter Carol Henney joining them, Marquette needs new middle hitters to step up right away.
“Our number one team focus right now is to get those young middles experienced,” Shymansky said. “That is the big hole in the lineup we have to fill, and we have to fill it with that group. We are working hard every day to find ways to prepare them, and they are working hard every day to prepare themselves.”
Marquette only had two other middle hitters on the roster last season, and neither played. Jackie Kocken and Meghan Niemann, who may feature outside as well, both received redshirts due to inactivity last season.
Marquette will also have true freshmen Rachel Vidourek and Teal Schnurr joining them in the fall, and Shymansky hopes they will be ready to play right away.
Recruiting class completed by two defensive specialists
On Monday, Shymansky announced the additions of two new backline players to the 2013 team. Marquette added Lauren Houg, an all-state defensive specialist out of Minnesota, and Nicki Barnes, who won a state championship in Illinois as a hitter but will move to the backline for the Golden Eagles.
“We’ll have a wealth of senior leadership on our back row next year,” Shymansky said. “It’s also nice to bring people in who are freshmen and train them and let the seniors take the freshmen under their wing and get them acclimated to the collegiate D-I level.”
Even though Marquette has seniors Julie Jeziorowski, Rachel Stier and Catherine Mayer on the back line, Shymansky expects Houg to compete right away for playing time. He also fully expects his team to overcome the adversity of losing its middle hitters and push forward in 2013.
“People stand around and say ‘Well, you probably won’t be as good because, blank,’” Shymansky said. “We know how to fill in the blanks.”