The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Mustang volleyball set to spike 2004 opponents

Hawaii, Rice biggest WAC rivals

Following a 23-7 record last season, the women’svolleyball team is looking to build on a season in which theyclaimed the WAC Eastern Division Title.

According to junior middle blocker Kelly Larkan, a slew ofinjuries last season meant an off-season spent resting andrecovering.

“[It seemed as if] everyone was injured,” she said.”The off-season was a time to heal, and we were just tryingto get better.”

Larkan, who received Academic All-WAC honors last season seesthe team going into the 2004 season with a much more competitivedemeanor. Especially since those new to the team are making theirpresence felt.

“The practices used to be controlled by thestarters,” Larkan said. “This year’s practiceshave been really competitive because we have so much talent anddepth.”

Last year’s success, which included an 11-2 record athome, raised the bar for the team.

“We have really high expectations of ourselves,”Larkan said. “Last year was by far the best seasonwe’ve had.”

The 23 wins last year were the most in the nine-year history ofvolleyball at SMU.

Lisa Seifert, who took charge of the program at its inception in1996, has helped establish her squad as one of the nation’stop up-and-coming programs.

In their first season on campus, the team struggled to a 7-24record, but charged to the top of the WAC Eastern Division in justa few short seasons under Seifert’s tutelage.

As Larkan explained, SMU’s reputation among other programshas taken the first steps toward nation-wide notoriety.

“We’re not yet respected by the other teams in ourdivision,” she said. “But everyone on our team knows wehave the potential to be the best squad that SMU will see for awhile.”

Despite the team’s potential, a few WAC opponents couldpresent problems for the Mustangs.

“The toughest conference opponents are definitely Hawaiiand Rice,” Larkan said. “We’re really focusing onthose matches.”

“It’s going to be a tough division because althoughwe’ve gotten better, so has everyone else,” shesaid.

While five of last year’s starters are returning (seniorBeth Karasek, Larkan, junior Jessica Mihm, senior Jacky Niederstadtand junior Ashley Zener), the incoming first-years are expected toadd strength and versatility to the team.

“We have so much depth on the bench,” she said.”I’m really excited to play.”

The Mustangs open the 2004 season as the SMU Invitational kicksoff against the Longhorns at 6 p.m. this Friday in Moody Coliseum.On Saturday, the invitational wraps up as the team plays host toNorthern Arizona at 1 p.m. and followed by Cal Poly at 7:30p.m.

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