By ANDY WOLF
Kara Scherger has a special senior season in mind.
The New Riegel grad and libero on the University of Findlay volleyball team has done her share in helping the Oilers remain a formidable squad.
Last year, UF won 28 matches, its most since 2003, before bowing to Rockhurst in the second round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.
“We’re satisfied, we’re happy, another number up on the board but our main goal is to get a poster on the board,” Scherger said.
What does a poster signify?
“National championship,” she said.
As long as she’s been at UF, her season has ended early in the NCAA tournament.
The Oilers do own two tournament victories in the last three years.
But Scherger has been there, done that.
“We can do the same thing we did before but we want to do something special this season,” she said. “We’re getting out of regionals and just making that step forward. We’re always in the same kind of ending every year.”
Scherger mentioned the team goals do include winning the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, going to regionals and being undefeated at home.
Instead of thinking big picture, the Oilers are aiming to take it one point at a time.
“Sometimes we get too caught up in the next game or the next tournament game,” she said.
Findlay is picked to finish second in the GMAC West Division behind co-champ Hillsdale.
The Oilers have every reason to think big.
They’re a little more loaded than in years past.
Scherger is one of three very accomplished seniors, along with outside hitter Amanda Winner and Hailee Olson who have left their marks in the UF record books.
Olson and Winner were first-team all-Midwest regional picks and honorable mention All-Americans last year. Olson ranks third all-time with 4,151 assists and is a three-time All-American.
Winner fronts one of the nation’s deepest and most efficient offenses. Her 1,294 kills rank sixth all-time at UF.
Scherger is in her third year at libero. She needs 86 digs to become UF’s career leader and break Jessica Luttfring’s mark (1,476, 1997-00).
Scherger only feels like a senior on the court.
“On the court I do because the three of us have played together for four years now,” she said. “Just having all these freshmen come in and ask a lot of questions, it’s like ‘Oh man, I am the oldest one.’”
The Oilers already began their year with a bang by defeating Division I Kent State University in four sets in a home exhibition.
“When we play well, we’re very, very good,” head coach Wick Colchagoff said. “We should be able to compete with any Division II team when we’re playing well.
“The secret for us will be to come out and perform at a high level each match.”
Ally Duncan (93 kills, 143 digs) is UF’s other senior who Colchagoff calls their best serve receiver.
Between Winner (490 kills) and Duncan are five equally lethal junior hitters in Shelby Kin (269 kills), Molly Hammersmith (259), Izzy Murphy (257) and Jenna Delarber (93), all averaging a kill per set.
“If teams try to key on a hitter or two it would be a mistake for them because we really do have five hitters that can score at any point in time,” Colchagoff said.
Kin, a Carey grad, especially saw a breakout sophomore season. She went from four matches as a freshman to a first-team all-GMAC selection.
She led the Oilers in hitting percentage (.341) and in total blocks (80).
“My freshman year the pace of the game from high school to college was completely different and was a rude awakening,” Kin said. “After practicing with the team for a year, I could be at their pace and was getting the opportunity to play and gave it my best shot.”
Sophomore Olivia Morrison made the start as defensive specialist in the Kent State exhibition while Madison Moore co-led UF with 14 kills. Moore missed the first half of last season with an injury before working her way into the starting lineup for the final 12 matches.
Jenna Hoppe adds depth as a defensive specialist (48 digs, 23 aces).
The Oilers begin the season Friday with four matches in two days in St. Augustine, Florida, including a tussle with the No. 3 team in the nation Minnesota-Duluth.
“We scheduled this as more of a mental test for us,” Colchagoff said. “Then we’ll get into the conference play. It’ll be less of a test within the conference except for some of the teams.”