Brian Lamppa, who returns for his fifth season with the Coyotes, will lean on senior setter/right side hitter Ashley Gross (Norfolk, NE) and junior libero and North Central Conference Defensive Specialist of the Year Amber Kobus (Columbus, NE).
In his five years at USD, Lamppa has compiled a 52-64 record with USD. In 2004, Lamppa was named NCC Coach of the Year as he led the Coyotes to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament. Assistant coach Kevin
Marquis and graduate assistant Kristen Miller will again assist Lamppa.
Gross, who led the team in kills (373), assists (196), points (426.5), and was second on the team in blocks (73), was named an honorable mention selection on the All-NCC squad. She was also named to the 2006 Academic All-North Central Conference volleyball team and the 2006 North Central Conference Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll.
Kobus returns to help anchor the Coyote defense. Last year, Kobus, who was the first Coyote in school history to earn the league's defensive specialist honor, led the team in aces (50) and digs (615).
Also returning for USD is junior middle blocker Heather Hult (Davis), who
led the team in hitting percentage (.236) and blocks (89) and was second on the team in points (329).
Among the new additions is freshman Kristen Kritenbrink (Gretna, NE), who is expected to make an immediate contribution. Three transfers, all from South Dakota State, Laura Slagter (Roseville, MN), Kathleen Hruska (Sioux Falls), and Jolene Slagter (Roseville, MN), will also make immediate contributions, according to Lamppa.
Slagter, a junior outside hitter, joins the Coyotes after appearing in 84 career matches for SDSU. Slagter was fourth on the team in kills (218) and third in hitting percentage (.218) in 2006. "With Laura (Slagter) playing at the Division I level the last two years, there is some great potential for her to come in this year and contribute right away," said Lamppa.
Kritenbrink, an outside hitter, joins the team after a prestigious high school career. At Greta, NE, Kritenbrink holds the school record in blocks (241), kills (917), and aces (161). Kritenbrink was a three-time all-conference selection and earned all-state second team honors following her junior and senior seasons. Kritenbrink has also made the honor roll three out of the last four years and is a two-year member of the National Honor Society.
"Kristen (Kritenbrink) will come in right away and start for us," said Lamppa. "She played for one of the top clubs in the country and will come in and provide some size that we have lacked lately."
After a strong spring season in which the Coyotes went 6-3, Lamppa is looking forward to the upcoming season. "Our core group will be juniors and seniors, unlike the last couple of years where our main players have been sophomores and juniors," said Lamppa. "That makes a big difference playing against one of the strongest conferences in Division II. The experience we have in our returners and the transfers is a big key to success this fall."
Lamppa says that the team has made major improvements both offensively and defensively. "On defense, we had to work on improving our consistency and this spring showed that it has improved," said Lamppa. "We also had to work on developing our offense. With the transfers being able to contribute in the spring, I think we have made significant strides offensively."