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December 1, 2007

2007 VOLLEYBALL REVIEW

2007 VOLLEYBALL REVIEW

 

Vikings turn things around and go 22-13 and finish second in both the CCIW regular season and tournament; Jaime Spolum, Mallory Thelander, Courtney Jungnickel and Rachel Uhrig all earn all-conference honors

 

A combination of continued growth by some key “veterans” and an infusion of tremendous young talent proved to be the answer as the Augustana Vikings completed an incredible turnaround in the 2007 volleyball season. Just one year after going 6-24 overall and 2-5 in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin the Vikings of third year head coach Stacey Ruff fooled all the “experts”. Picked to finish seventh in the CCIW in a pre-season vote of the conference coaches, Augustana started fast back in August and kept on winning en route to a complete transformation.

 

The Vikings finished the 2007 campaign with a 22-13 overall record and a 6-1 mark in the CCIW. They added 16 victories and took away 11 losses from 2006 for a turnaround of plus 27. After finishing seventh in the conference last year, they soared all the way to second place in 2007, losing only to eventual league champion Carthage. In the CCIW tournament Ruff’s crew won matches over Millikin and Wheaton before dropping the championship game at Carthage on November 3 to end the season.

 

It was the first 20 victory campaign since Augustana went 23-17 in 2002 under the direction of then-head coach Betsy Knott. That 2002 team was also the last Viking unit to play in the CCIW tournament’s championship game. The second place finish was the highest since Liesl Fowler’s 2001 club shared the title with Elmhurst.

 

Without a senior on the roster, Ruff relied heavily on some youngsters who had taken their lumps the year before. Junior setter Jaime Spolum (St. Charles North HS, St. Charles, Ill.) assumed the leadership mantle and responded with a tremendous season. She played in a total of 127 games and compiled 1,427 total assists for an average of 11.24 per game. She set a new single season school record for assists-per-game average, breaking the old mark of 10.77 set by Kiersten Madden in 2000. By season’s end, Spolum had climbed all the way up to second place on the career assists list with 3,603, trailing only the school record of 4,050 established by Madden from 1998-01.

 

Spolum was a first team all-conference selection and she led the CCIW in assists with an average of 12.08 in league games only (314 assists in 26 games).

 

She had plenty of weapons to pick from as five Vikings finished the season averaging at least 2.29 kills per game. Freshman Courtney Jungnickel (Naperville Central HS, Naperville, Ill.) made the all-tournament team at the Grinnell Invitational on the first weekend of action and she continued her fine play for the rest of the season. She led the team in kills with a 2.74 average (337 kills in 123 games) and also added 389 digs, 56 service aces and 31 total blocks. She was an honorable mention all-conference pick. Sophomore Mallory Thelander (Evanston HS, Evanston, Ill.) checked in a 2.49 kills per game (311 in 125) and had 47 service aces and 434 digs. Thelander was a second team all-conference selection. Sophomore Angela Baumgartner (Princeton HS, Princeton, Ill.) averaged 2.47 kills (314 in 127) while junior Lisa Neverman (West Delaware HS, Manchester, Iowa) checked in a 2.36 (245 in 104) and sophomore Marissa Banks (Ames HS, Ames, Iowa) had a 2.29 average (270 in 118).

 

Baumgartner, who earned third team ESPN – The Magazine Academic All-District honors by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), was seventh in the CCIW in hitting percentage with a mark of .269 (66 kills, 23 errors and 160 total attempts) in conference play. Thelander averaged 3.12 kills (81 in 26) in league action and was eighth while Jungnickel had a 3.04 (76 in 25) mark in the CCIW and was 10th. Thelander led the conference in service aces with 0.77 per game (20 in 26) and freshman teammate Jenna Howard (Wauconda HS, Wauconda, Ill.) was second with a 0.58 average (15 in 26). Neverman was fourth in the CCIW in blocks with 1.08 per game (28 in 26).

 

Sophomore Rachel Uhrig (Wheaton North HS, Winfield, Ill.) earned honorable mention all-conference recognition from her libero position. She led the Vikings in digs with an average of 5.59 (704 in 126) per game. She set a new Augustana school record for digs in a single match when she recorded 50 in a pulsating 3-2 win over North Central on September 18. In that match, which was the conference opener for both teams, the Vikings dropped the first two games before roaring back to win three straight. Ruff called that comeback “one of the keys to our success this year”. Uhrig was second in the CCIW in digs with a 6.62 average in league games (172 in 26). She is seventh on the career list with 1,107 and her 5.59 average this season is the third best ever in Augustana volleyball history. For good measure she added 56 service aces, which tied her for the team lead with Jungnickel although her 0.44 average was third best on the squad behind Howard’s 0.50 (55 in 111) and Jungnickel’s 0.46 (56 in 123).

 

Ruff knew that after struggling to find the victory column in 2006 that the key to the 2007 season would be a fast start. That is exactly what happened as the Vikings won three straight matches to open the year at the Grinnell Invitational. After absorbing some knocks against nationally ranked opponents over the weekend of September 7-8 at the Emory Invitational in Atlanta, Georgia, Augustana went on a roll.

 

Starting things off was an impressive 3-1 win on the road at St. Ambrose on September 12. That was the first victory over the Queen Bees since the 2003 season and that sparked a 10 match winning streak. Included in that run was the critical win over North Central to open the CCIW campaign and three conference road wins (North Park, Elmhurst and Wheaton) over a span of four days from September 28 through October 2.

 

With a 14-4 record, the Vikings hit a tough stretch with six straight losses in the early part of October. A 3-2 win over Wisconsin-River Falls in the Wartburg Tournament ended the skid and Augustana beat Millikin 3-1 behind 16 kills by Jungnickel and 51 assists from Spolum on October 16. That set up a showdown with Carthage for the conference lead on Friday, October 19. A huge crowd turned out in the Carver PE Center. The Vikings played well in game one, losing by a score of 28-30 before falling 22-30 and 21-30 as Carthage clinched the league title.

 

Ruff was worried about a letdown from her team with another crucial road game in the CCIW on tap for Tuesday, October 23. She was pleased with an impressive 3-0 (34-32; 30-20; 30-28) win from her charges as they cemented second place and a host spot in the first round of the conference tournament. Augustana closed out the regular season with a 3-1 performance at the Benedictine Invitational to head into the CCIW tournament with a 20-12 record.

 

In the first round of the conference tournament Jungnickel pounded out 15 kills and Spolum dished off 42 assists as the Vikings defeated Millikin 3-1 (30-24; 26-30; 30-25; 30-20) to move into the semi-final for the first time since the league went to a single elimination format in 2005. It was also the first CCIW tournament win since Augustana beat Wheaton 3-0 in 2004. In the semi-finals Baumgartner had 13 kills while Neverman and Thelander each had 11 and Spolum added 50 assists in a 3-1 (29-31; 33-31; 30-25; 37-35) win over Wheaton. That put the Vikings in the championship match on Saturday, November 3 against Carthage. Augustana fell 3-0 (30-26; 30-20; 30-18) but that still couldn’t dampen the success of the team in 2007. Thelander and Spolum were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts.

 

2007 CCIW FINAL STANDINGS

 

PLACE

TEAM

W (CCIW)

L (CCIW)

.PCT (CCIW)

W (ALL)

L (ALL)

.PCT (ALL)

1.

Carthage

7

0

1.000

33

5

.868

2.

AUGUSTANA

6

1

.857

22

13

.629

3.

Wheaton

4

3

.571

25

9

.735

4.

North Central

3

4

.429

26

8

.765

5.

Illinois Wesleyan

3

4

.429

20

17

.541

6.

Elmhurst

3

4

.429

14

18

.538

7.

Millikin

2

5

.286

21

14

.600

8.

North Park

0

7

.000

13

22

.371

 

CCIW TOURNAMENT

October 30, 2007 (Quarterfinals)
#1
Carthage def. #8 North Park, 30-18, 30-19, 30-26 @ Kenosha, Wisconsin
#2 Augustana def. #7 Millikin, 30-24, 26-30, 30-25, 30-20 @ Rock Island, Illinois
#5 Illinois Wesleyan def. #5 North Central, 30-18, 33-31, 23-30, 14-30, 15-6 @ Naperville, Illinois
#3 Wheaton def. #6 Elmhurst, 30-27, 28-30, 26-30, 30-27, 15-12 @ Wheaton, Illinois

 

November 2, 2007 (Semi-finals)
Augustana def. Wheaton, 29-31, 33-31, 30-25, 37-35 @ Kenosha, Wisconsin
Carthage def. Illinois Wesleyan, 30-18, 22-30, 30-18, 30-26 @ Kenosha, Wisconsin

 

November 3, 2007 (Championship)
Carthage def. Augustana, 30-26, 30-20, 30-18 @ Kenosha, Wisconsin

 

 


 

2007 AUGUSTANA VOLLEYBALL SUPERLATIVES

 

CCIW ALL-CONFERENCE SELECTIONS: Jaime Spolum (1st), Mallory Thelander (2nd), Courtney Jungnickel (HM) and Rachel Uhrig (HM)

CCIW TOURNAMENT ALL-TOURNAMENT SELECTION: Mallory Thelander and Jaime Spolum

CCIW ACADEMIC ALL-CONFERENCE: Lisa Neverman, Angela Baumgartner, Bridget Reich, Maddie Shaw, Mallory Thelander, Rachel Uhrig, Jackie Dickens, Jenna Howard, Courtney Jungnickel, Elise Meyer,

ESPN – THE MAGAZINE ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Angela Baumgartner (3rd team)

ALL TOURNAMENT SELECTIONS

Jaime Spolum & Courtney Jungnickel @ Grinnell Invitational on 09/01/07 in Grinnell, Iowa…Courtney Jungnickel @ Emory Invitational on 09/08/07 in Atlanta, Georgia…Angela Baumgartner @ Augustana Invitational on 10/06/07 in Rock Island, Illinois…Jaime Spolum @ Benedictine Invitational on 10/27/07 in Lisle, Illinois.

CCIW “PLAYER OF THE WEEK” SELECTIONS

Jaime Spolum – 09/18/07 (Setter/Defensive)…Courtney Jungnickel – 10/02/07 (Offensive)…Angela Baumgartner – 10/09/07 (Offensive)

CCIW STATISTICAL LEADERS – TEAM

Service Aces – 2.54 per game (66 in 26 conference games)

CCIW STATICSTICAL LEADERS – INDIVIDUAL

Assists – 12.08, Jaime Spolum (314 in 26 conference games)

Service Aces – 0.77, Mallory Thelander (20 in 26 conference games)

SCHOOL RECORDS SET IN 2007

SINGLE SEASON ASSISTS PER GAME – 11.24 by Jaime Spolum – breaks old record of 10.77 by Kiersten Madden in 2000

SINGLE MATCH DIGS – 50 by Rachel Uhrig vs. North Central on 09/18/07 – breaks old record of 47 by Jill Callaghan vs. Dubuque on 09/03/04

 

TEAM AWARDS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – Jaime Spolum

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER – Mallory Thelander and Courtney Jungnickel

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER – Rachel Uhrig

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER – Dana Gustafson

COACH’S AWARD – Elise Meyer

 

TOP TEN LISTS

 

SINGLE MATCH TOP TEN LISTINGS (additions from 2007)

ASSISTS – 65 by Jaime Spolum on 10/13/07 vs. Wisconsin-River Falls – fifth place…60 by Jaime Spolum on 10/06/07 vs. Luther – tied for 10th place

SERVICE ACES – 8 by Jenna Loncar on 10/27/07 vs. Mt. Mary – tied for third place

DIGS – 50 by Rachel Uhrig on 09/18/07 vs. North Central – first place

 

SINGLE SEASON TOP TEN LISTINGS (additions from 2007)

ASSISTS PER GAME – 11.24 by Jaime Spolum (1427 in 127 games) – first place

SERVICE ACES PER GAME – 0.50 by Jenna Howard (55 in 111 games) – tied for third place…0.46 by Courtney Jungnickel (56 in 123 games) – tied for eighth place

DIGS PER GAME – 5.59 by Rachel Uhrig (704 in 126 games) – third place

 

CAREER TOP TEN LISTINGS (additions from 2007)

ASSISTS – 3,603 by Jaime Spolum – second place

SERVICE ACES – 112 by Jaime Spolum – eighth place

DIGS – 1,107 by Rachel Uhrig – seventh place