New coach ready to lead BC women’s volleyball
By Aaron Moody, Blackburn College Sports Information
As the new fall semester kicks off, the Blackburn College women’s volleyball team has been spending quite a few hours in the gym in preparation for the upcoming season. The team recognizes a few new faces this year, among those is new head coach Suzannah Behnken.
“The transition has been great; the girls have been very welcoming. They really trust my knowledge,” Behnken said. “We’re really lucky; we have three really good setters. That’s very unique in volleyball to have that many on the same team. We also have a lot of great hitters, so we are in good shape,” she added. Making up the group of setters will be senior Amanda Miller, of Springfield, and sophomore Patrece McLain, of Rantoul.
With a new coach comes a new system, which Behnken said the girls have been very open about. “The freshmen are picking it up really well along with my returners who are very open to the change. They just do whatever they are asked to do.” Brianna Starck and Amy Walton are returning for their third year this season. “Our two juniors are very good, they have a lot of experience between the two of them,” Behnken said.
This year the Beavers will open up their season Aug. 31 in a tournament that includes nationally ranked Washington University. “We have a tough opening week, but it will really get us ready for conference play.” Blackburn was picked to finish tenth in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this year, but coach Behnken has made it clear that the standings at the end of the season will not reflect this prediction. “I’m telling you we’re way above that. I’m excited to play some teams in our conference and give them a nice little surprise. We have a ton of depth.”
Returning for their final season as a Beaver will be seniors Jessica McClelland, of Waggoner and Jamie Russow, of Flanagan. Also returning will be sophomores Alison Gartner, of St. Louis and Allie Matt, of Sherrard. New to the team this year will be sophomore Aurora Grimmett, freshmen outside hitter Emmalee McKinley, middle blocker Alexis Platto, middle blocker Kari Walch, and defensive specialist Meghand Ude. The home opener for Blackburn will be Sept. 12 where they will take on St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Principia College. Start time is set for 7 p.m.