The Dawson Community College volleyball program kicks off its second season on the road this weekend, and Coach John Marble said his team is ready. "We're ready to go play," he said. "You can only do so much in practice."
The Lady Bucs leave Thursday morning to make the 500-plus mile trip to Willmar, Minn., where they will face tough competition in a two-day tournament hosted by Ridgewater College. The Lady Warriors were ranked number three in the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division III pre-season poll. "There will be some very good competition there," Marble said.
DCC will start tournament play Friday afternoon against Ellsworth Community College out of Iowa Falls, followed by a nighttime match against Central Lakes College out of Brainerd, Minn. On Saturday, they play Ridgewater and North Iowa Area Community College, a team from Mason City, Iowa. The Bucs' official first test of the season comes after scrimmaging two weeks ago against three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic schools at Dickinson State University. The women competed against DSU, Black Hills State University and South Dakota School of Mines and Marble said his team was able to get a feel for its strengths, which include a big blocking game from Freshman Amanda Little of Billings. "We competed very well against some tough NAIA teams," he said. "We're a pretty solid passing team. We're playing defense very, very well and it continues to develop in practice as the weeks go on."
Marble said Sophomore Amanda Shadbolt is providing key leadership at the net and Sophomore Terah Lund has shown important development as the team's lead setter. "Terah's doing a great job running our offense," he said. "Her ability to place the ball, run the offense and make strategic setting choices is very exciting." Lund put up more than 630 assists during the Lady Bucs' 2008 inaugural season and spent time on the NJCAA's national rankings list, ending the season with an average of 5.91 assists per game.
Defensively, Marble said Freshman Ashley Eslinger, a Roundup graduate, has earned a spot as the team's libero. "I'm super excited about Ashley," he said. "She has been working super hard and is playing incredible defense." In fact, he said, overall, defense has proven to be one of the Lady Bucs' best areas early in the season. "We play with good energy and enthusiasm which allows us to dig a lot of balls and keep the balls in play," he said.
Following weekend play in Minnesota, the Bucs will make a stop in Wahpeton, N.D. to play their first conference game of the year against the North Dakota State College of Science. They go on the road again the first week of September to play in Wyoming before their first home game, set for Sept. 8 against Williston State College.