One year after going 15-1 in Big Sky Conference action to claim the regular season title, Bengal volleyball heads into the 2015 campaign with new head coach Rick Reynolds expecting much of the same success this time around.
The new head man was previously at Western Wyoming Community College, a school which he helped lead to a 197-87 record during his time, highlighted by a trip to the NJCAA Championship match in 2011. He was also named coach of the year twice.
Reynolds takes over for Chad Teichert who resigned following the 2014 season to return home to Star Valley High School in Wyoming.
While plenty of talent is still at the disposal of the new coaching staff, the key will be replacing the senior production lost when Kylee Sessions, Alydia Fields-Grimm, Whitney Bartschi-Harrington and Amy Sorenson graduated after last season.
During her time at Idaho State, Sessions became the all-time leader in digs with 1,795 over her four years, while Fields-Grimm had 311 digs last season and Bartschi-Harrington had 226 kills.
Sorenson was a transfer from Oregon State who played only her senior season at ISU, although she made a large impact during her time in Pocatello, starting all but one match last year.
Fortunately for Reynolds, the 2014 Big Sky Conference MVP Tressa Lyman returns for her senior season. The four-year starter at outside hitter heads the group of upperclassmen this year after leading the Bengals with 404 kills last year, also serving up 34 aces and contributing 321 digs.
In the middle of the ISU front line will be middle blocker Makenzie Filer. The 6’4” senior has also seen heavy playing time all four years for the Bengals and is an integral part in slowing down offensive threats from the other side of the net.
The junior class of Hayley Farrer, Sommer Reeder, Marissa Todd and Bailey Bars will add versatility to the group, with plenty of veteran leadership aboard.
The expectations are high again this year as the Bengals were recently picked to finish first in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll.
Impact Player: Tressa Lyman, 6’1”, OH, RS Senior, St. George, Utah
It’s not every day a team returns the reigning conference MVP. Lyman will try to find a way to make her senior season her best yet. A Big Sky championship is the goal for Lyman and the Bengals in 2015.
Key Newcomer: Kaitlyn Johnson, 5’5”, DS/L, Senior, Idaho Falls, Idaho
A University of Wyoming transfer, Johnson and sophomore Nicole Breidenbach are the only liberos listed on the roster. The starter will have big shoes to fill with Sessions no longer around on the back end.
First Home Match: September 1 vs. Utah Valley, 6 p.m. Reed Gym
Circle the Date: October 8 at Northern Colorado, 7 p.m.
The Bears were the only team in the Big Sky to knock off the Bengals last year, something UNC did twice, once in the regular season in Pocatello and again in the conference tournament championship match. Don’t think for a second ISU has forgotten about those two losses, meaning the rematches this season could be even more exciting.