August 20, 2014
THIS WEEK: Dakota State (0-0 overall record) kicks off their 2014 season with four matches in the Mustang Invitational Friday and Saturday. The Trojans will face Saint Ambrose (Iowa), Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.), host-team Mount Mercy (Iowa) and Ashford (Iowa) in the invitational. The matches will be taking place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at Hennessey Rec Center.
MUSTANG INVITATIONAL: Competing teams include Ashford (Iowa), Benedictine at Springfield (Ill.), Dakota State (S.D.), Graceland (Iowa), Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.), Mount Mercy (Iowa), Robert Morris (Ill.) and Saint Ambrose (Iowa). DSU will play Saint Ambrose on Court 2 at 3 p.m. and Hannibal-LaGrange on Court 1 at 7 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the Trojans play Mount Mercy at 9 a.m. on Court 1 and Ashford at 1 p.m. on Court 2. Mount Mercy had created a tournament page on http://www.mountmercymustangs.com/f/Volleyball/Mustang_Invitational.php where the results will be posted. The all-tournament team will also be listed at the conclusion of the tournament.
TROJANS PICKED FOURTH IN NSAA PRESEASON POLL: Dakota State was picked to finish fourth in the 2014 North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll. Jamestown (N.D.) was selected as the preseason favorite to win, voted by the leagues' coaches. The Trojans received 19 points to the preseason poll. The 2014 NSAA Volleyball season will consist of ten conference matches with six teams competing for the conference crown. The NSAA conference season kicks off on Sept. 18 where the Trojans host Presentation (S.D.) at DSU Fieldhouse in Madison.
NSAA CONFERENCE GAINS AUTOMATIC BID: The North Star Athletic Association officially welcomed Dickinson State (N.D.) on July 1, 2014, becoming a six-team conference. With six teams in the conference, the NSAA will have an automatic bid to the national tournament. The NSAA Volleyball Postseason Conference Tournament Champions will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA Volleyball National Tournament Opening Round on Nov. 22 at campus sites. The 35th Annual NAIA Volleyball Championship is set for Dec. 2-6 at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
THREE DSU SENIORS ON NSAA PRESEASON TEAM: Three Dakota State seniors were chosen on the 2014 NSAA Volleyball Preseason All-Conference Team. They are Katherine Gonzalez (returning NSAA Volleyball Defensive Player-of-the-Week), Caitlin Pick (returning NSAA Volleyball All-Conference First Team) and Stacey Westby (Schuller—entering her fourth year with the Trojan Volleyball team). DSU and Mayville State (N.D.) each led the NSAA Volleyball Preseason All-Conference with three selections, followed by Jamestown (N.D.) with two.
2013 IN REVIEW: The Trojans finished their 2013 season with an overall record of 9-25. DSU completed their first year in the North Star conference with a 2-6 record and a fourth-place finish. The Trojans won their first-ever NSAA Volleyball Postseason Conference quarterfinal match by sweeping Presentation (S.D.) in three straight sets, before falling to eventual NSAA Conference champions Jamestown (N.D.) in the semifinals. Caitlin Pick was named to the inaugural NSAA All-Conference First-Team, while Katherine Gonzalez was chosen to second team and NSAA Volleyball Defensive Player-of-the-Year.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN: Dakota State have 19 players on this year's volleyball roster. The Trojans return 12 players from last year's team. Katherine Gonzalez, Caitlin Pick and Stacey Westby will be the three seniors this year. Junior Allison Thielsen and sophomores Brittney Anderson, Taylor Stratton, Kaylee Vander Wal, Tessa Weeldryer, Chelsey Davis, Kylie Martin, Mackenzie Schultz and Annika Stephens also return back on the team. DSU have seven new faces this year including a junior transfer Alicia Karst and six freshmen—Hope Juntunen, Hannah Stuart, Hannah Bauer, Kelsie Casanova, Carly Rozell and Ashley Olson. Amy Veenhof will be entering her sixth season Trojans' head coach, while Megan Kusler will be starting her third season as an assistant coach.
LAST MEETING: Dakota State will play their first-ever meetings with Saint Ambrose (Iowa) and Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) on Friday. The last time Trojans faced Mount Mercy (Iowa) was on Oct. 5, 2007 where DSU won a five-set thriller in the Ashford (Iowa) Tournament. Dakota State won by the score of 30-23, 32-34, 30-21, 25-30 and 15-8 over the Mustangs. The Trojans defeated Ashford in both teams' last meeting in the Independent Jamboree, hosted by DSU in Madison, on Sept. 21, 2012. DSU in a five-set victory by the scores of 25-16, 20-25, 25-12, 23-25 and 15-12.
NEW NAME, SAME FACE: Dakota State have a player with a new last name, but same face on this year's volleyball team. Stacey was married this past summer with her last name as Westby. Her previous last name was Schuller. She had been on the Trojan Volleyball team for four years and was an integral member of the 2011 DSU team that advanced to the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Volleyball Qualifying Postseason Tournament.
RECORDS WATCH: Stacey Westby is on track for breaking a new DSU volleyball career record this season. She already racked up a total of 3,047 career assists, which is the second most career assists in DSU Volleyball school record book. Westby is just 103 assists away for tying the record for most career assists set by Jill Weisser with 3,150 assists from 2000-04.
BUSY SCHEDULE: Dakota State will have a busy schedule within the first four weeks of volleyball season. The Trojans will play a total of 17 matches before their first NSAA Volleyball conference match on Sept. 18 (vs. Presentation). DSU will be playing in three different invitational with four matches each, including the Mustang Invitational, Corn Palace Classic and Saint Mary (Neb.) Tournament.
DSU FIRST HOME MATCH: Dakota State will play their first home match of the season on Wednesday, Aug. 27 as they welcome Morningside (Iowa) of the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). There will be a junior varsity match at 6 p.m. with best-of-three, followed by a varsity match at 7:30 p.m. The matches will be held at the DSU Fieldhouse.
COACHES' CORNER: Amy Veenhof enters her sixth season as head coach at Dakota State. She has coached five all-conference players and nine NAIA Academic All-American scholar athletes. Her teams had been named to NAIA Scholar Team four times. Megan Kusler is in her third season as an assistant coach.
STAY CONNECTED: Stay connected with Dakota State volleyball and athletics all season long at www.dsuathletics.com. The Trojans are also on Twitter; just log onto www.twitter.com/GoDaSUAthletics. The Dakota State University Athletics can be found on Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/DSUTrojanAthletics.
LIVE COVERAGE: Mount Mercy (Iowa) will have their live video coverage and live stats available for their match versus Dakota State (S.D.) on Saturday morning. Go to http://portal.stretchinternet.com/mtmercy/ for more information. All the links will be available on the DSU Athletics home page (www.dsuathletics.com) in the scrolling schedule of events.
UP NEXT: Dakota State returns home on Wednesday, Aug. 27 versus Morningside (Iowa) with a junior varsity match at 6 p.m. and varsity match at 7:30 p.m. The Trojans continue their action in the Corn Palace Classic in Mitchell on Friday, Aug. 29 and Saturday, Aug. 30. DSU will face a pair of NSAA members Dickinson State (N.D.) and Valley City State (N.D.), Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) and Johnson & Wales (Colo.) in the classic. Dakota State will also play in the Saint Mary (Neb.) Tournament on Sept. 12-13 in Omaha versus Grace (Neb.), York (Neb.), Southwestern (Kan.) and AIB (Iowa).
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director