Young Jackrabbit squad prepares for six week road trip to start season

Over the weekend, the SDSU women’s volleyball team held a scrimmage at Frost Arena to provide a little insight to what fans may be able to look forward to this coming season.

A squad boasting just one senior after graduating six last season – and as many as six freshman, the team looked to be in pretty good form despite their inexperience, but only time will tell how things actually play out for the young team.

An early concern for the Jacks is the injury to junior Margit Hansing, who was victim to a practice injury last week.

“That was an unfortunate turn of events for us,” volleyball head coach Phil McDaniel said. “We were hoping that we were going to get good news from the MRI. (It) wasn’t good news … she’s out for the year. We’re going to miss her attacking wise … she’s one of our better defenders certainly as well.”

McDaniel believes many of the young players will find their opportunities to play now, saying the new athletes have ability.

“We’ve known since we had this group coming in that we were going to be physical,” McDaniel said. “Our athleticism hasn’t dropped at all. We’re looking fine … the issue with Margit is something we’ve got to adjust and deal with, but we’re still physical … I really like the way we’re looking.”

McDaniel also believes that the new group does some things better than his previous group, saying blocking is one aspect of the game he sees much improvement in.

“We’re blocking the ball extremely well right now,” McDaniel said. “I think we’re controlling the ball especially well too. We’re going to be good in transition.”

Lexi Fowler, the lone senior of the squad, will be thrust into a leadership position, something she believes she is ready to handle.

Fowler says the squad aims to prove their abilities as a younger team early on, aiming to achieve great things in her final season as a Jackrabbit.

“We really want to come out strong and really want to surprise a lot of people,” Fowler said. “We’re going to come out and do good things … that’s kind of a big goal of ours.”

On the leadership end, Fowler claims to be ready to handle the pressure, saying a lot of her teammates look up to her.

“I’ve kind of been used to it being in the setting position,” Fowler said. “I’ve been a big part of the team the past three years … there’s a lot of stuff that goes with the leadership role, but we’re really just a family on the court … it doesn’t really fall on one person necessarily.” 

A big storyline during the offseason was the departure of Oakland and Kansas City from the Summit League, along with the addition of Denver.

McDaniel says Denver is a good squad that brings competition to the table, also saying they have an awesome recruiting base.

“They’re going to bring in good competitiveness to our league … It’s going to be a good addition to the conference.”

Along with the questions of having a younger team, the Jacks will also spend the first month and a half of their season on the road, something McDaniel says will be tough, but also something he’s excited about.

“Those first six weeks are going to be key for us, but they’re a good chance for us to bond on the road as a team,” McDaniel said. “We’ll create our own energy and we’ll work through some stuff on the road … I’m excited about it, it’s a good schedule. It’s tough at first … but we’ve got a good opportunity.”

The Jacks will open the season on August 30 in Grand Forks, N.D. against the Iowa State Cyclones.