VOLLEYBALL: Toppers face Kansas

Amber North

The wait is over.

After practicing early into the school year, Western’s volleyball team is now ready to put its hard work into match-time as it begins its season on Friday at the Northern Illinois tournament in Dekalb, Ill.

“I just want to play hard – harder than who we’re playing, because this early in the season, nothing else really matters,” Coach Travis Hudson said.

The Lady Toppers will face Kansas on Friday at 5 p.m. and then play Northern Illinois and Liberty on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.

And those will not be matches to sneeze over.

“This is a pretty stacked field,” Hudson said. “Kansas is probably the biggest challenge for us, coming out of the Big 12, which is a power conference.”

With NIU being a perennial 20-win team and Liberty the preseason favorite in the Big South conference, Hudson said there won’t be a matchup where Western won’t have to play well to win.

The starting rotation will be junior Amanda Cecil and sophomore Jessie Wagner on the left; the two middle hitters are junior Amanda Schiff and senior Cynda Debort.

Taking the right position is sophomore Crystal Towler, and sophomore Caron Blotch will be the setter.

Hudson said there will not be anyone who won’t see much playing time, except for freshman Megan Frericks, who is redshirting this season.

The only new face on the court will be Texas transfer Blotch, who will be starting her first game as a Lady Topper.

“I’m not nervous – it’s more like excited with anticipation to see how well we do,” Blotch said.

“The team takes the pressure off my shoulders because I know they are a good team,” she said. “The only pressure is being the only new person on the team, and if things go wrong, people may look at that.”

But there aren’t too many worries for the Lady Toppers because they are confident they will play well.

“We’re pretty much the same team as last year, but one thing a Western volleyball team has always had is that we’re very close,” Cecil said.

“I know we’re going out (to) battle with each other to compete against the teams.”

Reach Amber North at [email protected]