The Dakota State volleyball team’s season is now in full swing. After falling in the conference championship match last year, the Trojans are looking to have another successful year. The group returns a solid core from last year and has brought in several new faces as well. Head coach Amy Veenhof says, “[We’re] hoping the team can pick up right where they left off last year.” Now, the team has gotten a taste of winning and now they are hungry for more.
The Trojans return with a lineup that includes senior All-American Honorable Mention, Barbara Briceno. She’s one of the main forces upfront along with junior hitter Maddie Polzin. Both have had good starts to the season along with newcomers Hannah Jellema and Peyton Johanneson. Jellema is a transfer from South Dakota State and Johanneson is a transfer from North Dakota. The Trojans also return Peyton Groft who played last year as a freshman but will play an even bigger role this year in the libero position. Also returning this season are setters Rachel Johnson and Nicole Sarringar along with key front row players Sammy Zell and Kelsey Pearson.
Winning hasn’t come easy for the Trojans in the first few games this year. They lost their season opener to College of Saint Mary in four sets and then headed down to Arizona for four games. Here they were able to find the winning column in their next three games. They were able to put away Park University-Gilbert, SAGU-Indian, and Montana State in three sets each. However, they fell to Arizona State in their last game of the weekend. Veenhof commented that it was a game that they would have had to play well to win, but they were unable to pull away and lost in four sets. Their most recent game was played against Morningside on Friday, Sept 6. Any school in the GPAC is going to show up with a tough team and Morningside did just that taking home the win, knocking the Trojans back to a 3-3 overall record.
It’s a tough road ahead for the Trojans as they finish out their non-conference games and head into conference play, but the team is eager and hopeful. Veenhof has seen great sparks from her girls, but they just need to be able to put it together and play more consistently. She believes that this is one of the most talented groups of girls Dakota State has ever had. There is a job to be done this year, get to the national tournament, and Veenhof believes this is a group of girls that can do it. There is a lot of excitement this year around the volleyball team because both the students and fans see what Head Coach Veenhof does. Everybody is ready to cheer on the girls to a great season. Good luck and go Trojans!
Pictures by Donald Weidler.