Siloam Springs, Ark (August 24, 2001) - After going 29-11 last year the John Brown University Golden Eagles volleyball team, which achieved its first ever NAIA national ranking (ending the season number 21), will face many challenges.
The main challenge the team will have to overcome is the loss of four starters, including highly experienced, four-year starters Melody Murray and Aimee Golemon. Head coach Robyn Gordon has filled the openings on the team, creating what she sees as a roster filled with talent, but short on experience. "I'm not sure how long it will take to get going," Gordon said, "but I know the talent is there."
The success of the team rests on the shoulders of senior Amber Squires, the lone returning hitter on the team. "We need [Squires] to get around four kills per game to be successful," Gordon said. Squires, who averaged 3.6 kills a game, is up to the challenge; a challenge that will routinely manifest itself in double and triple blocks as teams aim to specifically shut her down.
One way that Gordon plans to help Squires out with the opposing block is to put more hitters on the floor by switching from a 5-1 to a 6-2 offense, which allows for three hitters to always occupy the front row while the setter is always on the back row. Gordon has not ruled out the 5-1 offense, but is looking for options to help the inexperienced hitters.
Another challenge the JBU women face is the new scoring system. All games are rally-scoring with the first four going to 30 and the last, if needed, to 15. This type of scoring makes defense much more important than in the side-out game. "The past two years we have had a high-powered offense, which the team focused on rather than defense," Gordon said. "This year's team has a desire to play defense that sets them apart from others in the past."
The Golden Eagles will have a chance to test its defense as well as its offense, led by Squires, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the JBU Classic Tournament. The tournament, which will be held at JBU, includes a field of seven other area colleges and universities. JBU plays at 2pm and 6pm on Aug. 31st and at Noon and 4pm on September 1st.
John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of more than 1,500 students from 46 states and 30 countries. JBU is a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. JBU competes in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC), one of three conferences within the NAIA's Region VI.