CHADRON, Neb. – January 20, 2021 — The Chadron State College volleyball team will finally get back to playing in 2021, beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Although the team has not seen any action on the court in more than 10 months, Coach Stadler is confident in its abilities and believes the team is ready to go.
The Eagles come into the 2020 season 10th in the preseason Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference poll, an improvement from their 13th-place preseason estimate in 2019. Coach Stadler’s first squad at CSC boasted a winning record of 14-12, the program’s best record in recent memory and its first winning record since 2003.
“If we want to be ranked higher,” Stadler said, “we have to earn it. We have to earn respect.”
The coach said three teams from the Denver area–Colorado Mines, Metro State and Regis–are probably the preseason conference favorites.
In regards to the postseason, the coach is confident the young Eagles have the talent to earn one of eight RMAC Tournament berths and will rely on their setters to be successful in their 6-2 offense.
The year of 2020 was not easy for many and Chadron volleyball was no exception. The team faced several challenges during the extended offseason, many of which Coach Stadler deemed to be more mentally challenging than physically tolling.
The biggest challenge for the team was having to mentally reset.
“In a regular season, fall is for playing, spring is for practicing,” said the second-year coach. “This year, the semester roles are reversed. Volleyball will be played in the spring and the team had fall to practice.”
Having extra time in the fall to practice gave the incoming freshmen an advantage. They had additional time to get acclimated with the team and build chemistry before facing any action. Getting time to get to know the new faces on the team will be beneficial.
The altered season will prove to have several disadvantages, however. For the returning players, they have experienced the longest offseason of their careers which will be coupled by the longest season they will face. With competition being played from January to April, the team will have a few less months to breakdown fundamentals before being thrust back into season in the fall. This will prove to be both physically and mentally demanding.
Although 10 months of an offseason is difficult, Coach Stadler is proud of the team’s commitment to improve throughout with hopes of “eventually” getting to play.
Among those players who have persevered is Chandler Hageman, a senior from Chadron who was a Second Team All-Conference player last season. Karli Noble, a senior from Cheyenne, returns as the starting libero. Rylee Greiman of Windsor, Colorado, a sophomore at outside hitter, had an impressive freshman season in 2019. Amelia Berg, a junior right side/setter from Fort Collins, Colorado, is also expected to be an impact player for the Eagles.
Of the new players, eyes will be on freshmen Rhiannon Nez of Rapid City (middle hitter), Olivia Moten-Schell of Billings, Montana (outside hitter), and sophomore transfer Lexi Hurtado (outside hitter), who hails from Aurora, Colorado, but came to CSC by way of Florida Southwestern State College.
Sophomore setter Breshawna Kelly, a Casper native, joins the Eagles this season after playing two years for Sheridan College, playing one of those years under Coach Stadler before her move to CSC. Joining Kelly at the position are veteran Kincaid Strain, a junior from Elk River, Minnesota, and Berg.
After losing 2019 RMAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Ashton Burditt to graduation, Coach Stadler said she was impressed to see so many players step up to take on the role of libero. One of those players is Noble who is the daughter of Scott Noble who coached multiple sports here at CSC, and Debra Spickelmier-Noble who was a four-time All-America mid-distance runner for the Eagles.
“Karli has shown great leadership,” said Stadler, “and is always putting the success of the team before her own. She has a relentless mindset when it comes to defense, and I am excited to see her growth in this position throughout the season.”
The team is also looking forward to using some of the newfound tools they have from the offseason, including greater offensive talent and more leadership. These tools are found in the aforementioned Hageman who will be a senior, the two sophomore outside hitters Hurtado and Greiman, and returner Aracely Hernandez of Greeley, Colorado, a junior outside hitter who saw action in nearly every match of 2019.
CSC’s first home matches are Saturday, Feb. 6, when Colorado State-Pueblo and Colorado Mesa will visit the Chicoine Center.