The University of Minnesota Morris volleyball comes off an NCAA tournament bid in 2018 and is hoping to build on that this season under second-year head coach Joe Sussenguth.
“Once you have that opportunity to get a victory like that for your program, it can build momentum and confidence,” Sussenguth said in a preseason interview will UMM Sports Information Director Will Rottler.
The Cougars won the UMAC tournament for the first time in program history and then defeated No. 8-ranked team in the country Gustavus Adolphus in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
“After a successful postseason in 2018, I know that it is something that our team wants to experience again in 2019,” Sussenguth said. “With the targets on our backs and a predominantly road-heavy schedule, our work will be cut out for us. Realistically, we should make winning the UMAC regular season conference title in addition to the conference championship. We cannot be complacent in our efforts, but we can use that 2018 postseason experience to our advantage tactically.”
The Cougars graduated just one senior last spring in Rachel Mathias, who is an assistant coach this season. UMM has just one freshman this season in Kennedy Geller.
“Kennedy is prepared for the college level and has a high ceiling both offensively and defensively,” Sussenguth said.
Top returners for the Cougars include Layne Herrmann, Morgan Miller, Brenna Tinjum and Tori Everson.
Herrmann has averaged over 1,100 set assists in each of her three seasons, setting the program record in set assists as a junior. She comes into her senior season with 3,453 set assists.
“To have a senior setter with as much experience as Layne has had, that definitely works to our advantage,” Sussenguth said.
Miller was a force in the middle last season. She finished with 182 kills and 28 solo blocks and 101 block assists in 2018.
“Morgan is such a force defensively at the net and I expect her to expand her offensive role this season,” Sussenguth said.
Tinjum and Everson are sophomores this season. Both have over 225 digs defensively and are returning as top hitters from a year ago. Tinjum finished with 276 kills while Everson had 275.
“Brenna is as electric as any outside hitter you can find in our conference. She excelled as a freshman for us last season,” Sussenguth said. “Tori is as tough as you can find and competes extremely hard.”
Hannah Godzala, Herrmann and Miller are the three seniors on the team this season. The Cougars will open the season in a tournament at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. UMM plays University of Mary Hardin-Bayloer and Neumann University Friday, Aug. 30 and the host Trinity University and Whitman College Saturday, Aug. 31.
The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference released the preseason coaches poll Tuesday, Aug. 30 and UMM was picked to finish in a tie for first place with Northwestern this season.
2019 UMAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
T1. Minnesota Morris – 59 points (4 First Place Votes)
T1. Northwestern – 59 points (4 First Place Votes)
3. Wisconsin-Superior – 51 points (1 First Place Vote)
4. St. Scholastica – 42 points
5. Bethany Lutheran – 39 points
6. Martin Luther – 27 points
T7. North Central – 17 points
T7. Northland – 17 points
9. Crown – 13 points
University of Minnesota Morris
Joe Sussenguth | 2nd Season |
13-3 UMAC, 23-12 | 3rd |
Postseason: UMAC Tournament Champions (First time in program history), 1-1 at NCAA Division III National Tournament.
Layne Herrmann, Sr., S | First Team All-Conference | 1149 set assists, 9.58 assists per set, 59 ace serves |
Morgan Miller, Sr., MB| Second Team All-Conference | All-Academic All-Conference |129 Blocks, 1.20 blocks per set, 320 kills |
Tori Everson, Jr., OH | 275 kills, 54 ace serves, 268 digs |
Need to Know
Layne Herrmann became the career leader in set assists at UMM during the 2018 season, she has 3453 entering 2019.