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UMM Cougars introduce incoming volleyball players

Coach Chad Braegelmann is optimistic that his first recruiting class at the University of Minnesota, Morris will make an immediate and lasting impact on the Cougar volleyball program. At the very least, Coach Braegelmann is confident that there will be increased competition in the P.E. Center come practice time and there will be depth as Braegelmann has 11 new Cougars slated to show up in the fall to help nine returning players from last year.

Providing a wealth of experience for the 2009 class are three Junior College transfers: Lindsey Jacobson (Hibbing Community College, Hibbing HS), Jordan Olerud (Ridgewater Community College, Redwood Falls HS), and Megan Theis (North Dakota State College of Science, Shakopee HS).

Jacobson, a 5-foot, seven-inch opposite hitter has been in five straight state tournaments for volleyball - her last three years at Hibbing High School, and both years at Hibbing Community College. She was an All-Region and Northern All-Division player for the Cardinals as well as a two-time All-State Tournament selection and was All-Conference in 2008. She also helped her team to the NJCAA DIII National Tournament in 2008, finishing third. Lindsay graduated from HCC in the spring.

Olerud, a 5-8 outside hitter was an All-Region, Second team All-State and All-Southern Division player for the Warriors while leading Ridgewater to back-to-back runner-up finishes at the NJCAA DIII National Championships. She was also a two-time All-Conference performer in high school. Jordan graduated from Ridgewater this spring.

Theis, a 5-11 middle hitter, led the NDSCS Wildcats in hitting efficiency during her sophomore year helping her team win their Conference and Regional title. In her first year at NDSCS, she helped the team to Nationals. At Shakopee High School, Megan was a two-time All-Conference performer. Megan graduated from NDSCS this spring.

"We are ecstatic to bring in this strong group of junior college transfers," says coach Braegelmann. "We get some much needed depth and experience in the front row with this group. We were set to only have two seniors and two juniors and this brings our junior class up to five. All three of these women are very talented players and will get a chance to get on the court and exhibit their volleyball skills and experience. We have high hopes for this group as a whole."

The freshmen class is eight strong and includes: Justine Banken (Breckenridge HS), Katie Dalton (Minneapolis Southwest HS), Nichelle Grage (Austin HS), Allie Humphrey (Minnetonka HS), Brita Humphrey (Minnetonka HS), Kat Nelson (Barnum HS), Stephanie Schmiesing (Melrose HS), and Ashley Serbus (Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa HS).

Banken, a middle blocker, was twice voted Most Outstanding Attacker and Blocker and was a Team Captain in both 2007 and 2008. She was also a two-time All-Conference volleyball player for the Cowgirls.

Dalton, an outside hitter, was an All-City Honoree in both 2007 and 2008.

Grage, a setter, was an All-Conference selection for Austin High School as a setter.

Brita, an outside hitter, and Allie Humphrey, a middle blocker, were both members of the Minnetonka volleyball team. Allie was selected as an All-Conference performer in 2008 and was a team captain.

Nelson, an opposite hitter who is also planning on participating in Track and Field at UMM, was an All-Conference selection and team captain for the 2008 season.

Serbus, an outside hitter, helped BBE to two state tourney appearances in her time as a Jaguar, including a fourth-place finish in 2008. Ashley was named the Rookie of the Year in the 2007 season and was an All-Conference selection in 2008.

Schmiesing, a middle blocker, was voted All-Conference for her play in the 2008 season, was selected as a member of the All-Sauk Valley team as well as being voted Best Offensive Player by her team and coaches.

"I am extremely excited about this group as well," commented coach Braegelmann. "We bring in depth at every front row position and at setting with this recruiting class. We have some height, some very good athletes and some very good volleyball players.

"It is going to be a treat to watch this group mesh with our returning players and to see the improvement through the fall season. Practices should be a blast with intense competition for playing time.

"I am looking for us to be even more competitive within the UMAC and look forward to our first-ever appearance in the conference tournament," added Braegelmann.