Coming off of a Jayhawk West Conference Championship in 2009 and led into the 2010 campaign with the top returning player in the conference, the Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball team has been ranked 17th in the NJCAA Pre-Season Top 25 poll to open the 2010 season.
Seward returns just three players off of last seasonís 26-11 team that reached as high as #9 in the polls at one point. However, the Lady Saints have high expectations as all three of those returning sophomores played a significant role on last yearís championship team. Sheina Fernandes returns in the middle after being named Jayhawk West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2009 and should be the early favorite for Conference Player of the Year honors as the season begins. Maddy Taylor stepped ahead of the pack at the setting position late during the 2009 campaign and comes back as one of the top sophomores setters in the league this season. Stacie Carver played in 89 games last season and will be looked upon to provide a strong block on the right side for the Lady Saints this season.
With just the three returners this season, a lot will be expected from the nine newcomers for the Lady Saints in 2010. Head Coach Bert Luallen will hope to get good production out of Brazilianís Daiane Souza and Isabella Silva as well as all-around talent Courtney Geesing on the outside as they try to fill the footsteps of a pair of departed All-Conference hitters from last yearís squad. Jade Greene and Aislyn Karney come into camp as the only 6 footers on the roster and should give Seward a strong block in the middle to go along with Fernandes. Jordan Martin and Shelly Malouff will compete for playing time at the setter position and will be one of the keys to Sewardís success this year. One of the Lady Saints strengths this season should be at the Libero/Defensive Specialist position where Madison Winkelman and Katie Marks give Seward a strong presence in Bert Luallenís most stressed facet of the game, back line defense.
The Lady Saints are joined by the Pratt Lady Beavers from the Jayhawk West Conference in the top 25 as they check in at #14 while 10 other teams likely to cross paths with Seward this year are also on the list. The gals in green will take the court for the first time against outside competition August 21st when they will head down to Goodwell, Oklahoma where they will square off with host OPSU and a number of other junior college squads from around the region. Their first contest for keeps will come August 27th in the Lamar Kick-Off Classic where they look to defend their 2009 tournament title starting with Trinidad State at 12:00.