2004 Season Preview

Aug. 23, 2004

IOWA CITY, IA – “A dream come true.”

That’s what new head volleyball coach Cindy Fredrick said when asked what it is like coming back to the University of Iowa. A former Iowa assistant coach and graduate, Fredrick looks forward to the challenges of the 2004 season. Joining Fredrick on the sidelines will be associate head coach Dr. Mashallah Farokhmanesh and assistant coach Chad Hanson.

The coaching staff may be new, but Fredrick and her staff will have a number of returning players to count on. Three seniors, Pam Kavadas (libero), Carolyn Giese (middle blocker) and Laura Simpson (outside hitter) will be invaluable in this transition year.

“It is going to be important that Carolyn, Laura and Pam really take big roles on the floor,” said Fredrick. “They’re the dependable ones. They are going to be steady and they will need to be the aggressors. Those three will be the nucleus of the program this season.

“The seniors have been through a great deal together. They have formed a very tight-knit, cohesive team. We will count on their leadership and talent to help turn things around. I want Laura, Pam, and Carolyn to be able to leave knowing they helped get the Iowa volleyball team on the right track.'”

Fredrick also believes the 2004 season will be crucial to the future of the program.

Senior Carolyn Giese

“You pick a fine line,” she explains. “I want the players to set high goals. But, those goals won’t necessarily transfer into huge wins. You’re not going to turn this around in one year.”

Instead, the focus this year will be a change in the way each player approaches a match. The Iowa staff wants to see daily improvement in the way each athlete performs, but also in the attitude of the team.

“That is the biggest hurdle we will have to cross,” says Fredrick. “To make our players buy into the fact that we expect to win.”

Fredrick believes this simple coaching philosophy will be the formula for success here. She emphasized that she expects a lot from her student-athletes as well.

“I’m pretty strict on discipline. I believe discipline is what makes you succeed,” said Fredrick. “No matter what anybody else tells you, there is no magic in winning. It’s simply hard work. I also believe in the philosophy that you not only work hard, but you work smart. I want my players involved in that process.”

The coaching staff and players work together, but another component is understanding what is expected out of each other.

“We’re not going to ask them to make huge changes in the way they play volleyball, especially the seniors,” said Fredrick. “We’ll look at making small changes in the way they do things, but bigger changes in the way they look at things. To have a successful program, the coaches need to buy into the players and the players must buy into the coaches.

“We want to see motivation and the desire to make this program as good as it can be. It can happen through hard work, commitment and the philosophy that Iowa is a great place to play volleyball.”

Desire and motivation are not the only components to Hawkeye volleyball this year. Flexibility will be important to the squad as well. Despite returning four starters this season, the 2004 team lacks depth at the key attacking positions.

“Technically, we have only one middle hitter, and that is Carolyn,” says Frederick. “We have some positions that are going to be tough to fill and we really need to build depth at those positions.”

Fredrick said the team will have to adapt to different positions and situations as the year progresses.

“The kids must be flexible in where they can play because of our weaknesses,” says Fredrick. “The ability and the willingness to step outside our comfort zone will make us competitve.”

Outside Hitter:
Laura Simpson (Sassafras, Australia) is the team’s leading hitter from last year, averaging 3.9 kills per game. The senior ranked eighth in the Big Ten last season with an average of 3.92 kills in conference matches. The Hawkeyes will also count on Simpson’s endurance. She competed in all 105 games and 30 matches in 2003.

Senior Laura Simpson

Sophomore Tiana Costanzo (Escondido, CA), who split time last year at libero and outside hitter, will need to take a more dominant role as an attacker this year. While competing in 91 games and starting in 20 matches last year, Costanzo averaged 1.32 kills and 2.81 digs.

Meredith Stach (Elgin, IL), a sophomore outside hitter coming off foot surgery, will also see time as an outside hitter. Stach earned three starts in the 2003 season and had a career-high seven kills against Ohio State.

Sophomore hitter Jacqueline Huguelet (Orland Park, IL) saw considerable time at the end of last season, starting in nine of the Hawkeyes final ten matches. She had a double-double against Minnesota when she tallied 11 digs and nine kills.

Heidi Harriman (Battle Creek, IA), Stasia Prater (Hopedale, IL) and Stacy Vitali (St. Charles, IL) are three freshmen that will battle for playing time at the outside hitter position. Harriman went into Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School’s record books with 773 career kills and 318 digs. Prater was a three-year captain and MVP on her Olympia high school team. She was an all-conference, all-area and all-state selection her senior year. Vitali, 6-0, was all-conference and all-state her senior season and was voted female athlete of the year at St. Charles East High School.

One junior college transfer and two returning sophomores will compete for the setting position this season.

Justeen Patton (Tampa, FL) played in 78 games as a back-up setter and defensive specialist at Barton County Community College (KS). Her BCCC team won the NJCAA Volleyball Championship in 2003. Patton’s high school team won two state championships. In 2001, she was high school all-America honorable mention.

Betsy Cordt (Davenport, IA) is a sophomore setter who played in ten matches last season. She competed against eight Big Ten opponents and in five of the last seven matches in 2003.

Sophomore Chelsey Garret (Colorado Springs, CO) returns to Iowa with three years of eligibility after red shirting at Washington during the 2002 season. She played in four matches for Iowa last year. Garrett was a first-team all-conference and all-county selection as a prep.

Middle Blocker:
Carolyn Giese (Dubuque, IA) returns for her last year. Giese, who had a career-high 22 kills against Duke last season, currently ranks 24th on Iowa’s all-time attack percentage list with .190. Giese led the Hawkeyes in blocks 13 times and finished the season ranked second on the team with an average of 2.88 kills and .79 blocks per game.

Also looking for playing time in the middle blocker position is freshman Megan Gatens (Iowa City, IA). The City High graduate was a first team all-conference and all-district selection as well as a second team all-state selection her senior year. Gatens finished her prep career with 297 kills and 103 solo blocks during her 2003 season. Her squad ended the year tied for third place at the class 4A state championships.

Defensive Specialists:
Despite that fact that only two returning players – Pam Kavadas (Roselle, IL) and Lauren Bruckner (Western Springs, IL) – are listed on the roster as defensive specialists, this is a position the Hawkeyes have an abundance of players.

Senior Pam Kavadas

Kavadas was a constant for Iowa last year competing in all 105 games and 30 matches as the team’s libero or a defensive substitute. After the 2003 season, she ranks 11th on Iowa’s all-time career digs list with 972 and led the team in digs in 20 matches. She ranked second in Big Ten action with 4.38 digs per game and recorded double figure digs in 24 of the Hawkeyes 30 matches last season.

Bruckner averaged 1.24 digs in 96 games and 30 matches during the 2003 season. She collected nine digs in three matches last year.

The Hawkeyes will start the season at the Illinois State Tournament in Normal, IL, against Wright State, Denver, and the home team Redbirds. The following weekend the Hawkeyes will make the trek to Beaumont, TX, and the Lamar University Cardinal Classic. While there Iowa will face new opponents in Georgia State and Grambling State, as well as Lamar and Weber State. Iowa will also face Creighton University for the first time on September 14 in pre-conference volleyball action in Iowa City. The final early season tournament will be the Hawkeye Holiday Inn Challenge in Iowa City on September 17 and 18. The Hawkeyes host Eastern Washington, Chicago State and Furman University.

“Our preseason schedule will be good for our squad,” said Fredrick. “We have some good teams we’ll be competing against. At the same time, the schedule is not excessive and that’s what we need right now. We should be able to come away with some good wins that will be confidence boosters.”

The Hawkeyes will start Big Ten conference action at home against Michigan and Michigan State, on September 24 and 25 respectively. Of the ten teams that Iowa will face this year in conference action, seven made it to the NCAA tournament last year and five teams finished in the AVCA top 25 poll. Also on the Iowa schedule in October is Northern Iowa. The Panthers also made it to the 2003 NCAA tournament.