July 16, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The 2004 volleyball season is quickly drawing near and a new group of Cowgirls will look to bring back some tradition to the UW program. Not only are there several new additions to this year's team, but one at the helm as well looking to take Wyoming Volleyball into the future.
First year head coach Pat Stangle begins a new chapter in Cowgirl Volleyball as he takes over the program in 2004. The 11th head coach in school history, Stangle comes to Wyoming after spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Washington.
No stranger to success, his coaching credentials also include a five year stint at Seward Community College (Liberal, Kansas) and two seasons at Central College (McPherson, Kansas). While at Seward, he helped the Lady Saints to three straight appearances in the NJCAA national championships, three NJCAA Region VI titles and two Jayhawk Conference championships. He coached 18 NJCAA All-Region Players, six NJCAA All-Americans and posted an impressive record of 225-34 during that time.
"Having been a head coach for seven years prior to my time at Washington, much of what I'm doing at Wyoming simply involves getting back into the drivers seat," said Stangle. "What I learned at Washington is how to prepare a team to perform at the highest level possible, both in practice and in matches, regardless of the situation, the opponent, or the circumstances.
"There were a number of things that attracted me to Wyoming," he added. "It was easy to see that there is a great passion in Wyoming for its athletic programs. There is an outstanding following for volleyball, and we want to build on that. There is tradition. It might have gotten away a little in recent years, but there has been outstanding success here."
Despite four starters returning this season, it will still be quite a rebuilding year for this year's team as they only return a total of six letterwinners, while welcoming in nine newcomers to the squad. All of the returning players saw significant playing time in 2003, which includes First Team All-Mountain West Conference selection Sara Maytorena. Unfortunately, they will also have to replace the loss of six seniors, including 2002 First Team All-MWC player Michele Rauter.
"This volleyball season at the University of Wyoming will be one of great anticipation and uncertainty," said Stangle. "With a completely new staff, new systems and a large number of new players, it will take some time to get to know each other, fully implement our systems and develop an identity. Our attention, individually and collectively, will be to improve everyday."
The Cowgirl squad will be comprised of four seniors, two sophomores and nine freshmen. Even with all of the returning players, there is still that level of uncertainty that comes with a coaching change and the addition of several newcomers.
"One of the things I've learned over the years in coaching is not to get into the predicting business. With so many variables involved in a season, it's really hard to guess, with any kind of certainty, where a team will end up," Stangle said. "All we can do as a staff and as a program is control the things we can control. Strive to get better each and every time on the court. One of the biggest challenges for this team will be to bring that mind set to the gym everyday. For Wyoming Volleyball to be successful, and compete in a tough conference like the Mountain West, we have to be good and learn to be as good as we can be all the time."
Several individuals will be a big part of the Cowgirls success this season with both their playing experience and leadership ability, which includes seniors Sara Maytorena and Jill Roslund. An All-Mountain West Conference selection in 2003, Maytorena returns as the Cowgirls leading honors candidate, after averaging 3.21 kills, 2.16 digs and a .271 hitting percentage. Roslund finished her junior campaign averaging 2.42 kills, along with a .289 hitting percentage.
The other returning starters seniors Amy Doman and Vanessa Latimer, along with returning letterwinners sophomores Kaylan McGary and Andrea Seele will also play a large role on the court this season. Doman finished out her junior season with 1,178 assists, which was fourth in the conference, while Vanessa Latimer recorded 2.33 digs per game, which was third on the team. In their first season of competition, Seele averaged 2.17 kills in 30 matches played, while McGary chipped in almost one kill and one block per game.
"If our team goes about things the right way, then a leader or leaders will emerge," said Stangle. "Everyone on this team will have an equal opportunity, be it for playing time or a leadership role. Each player has to be accountable for her position before she can be a true leader.
"My greatest fear, and the fear of any coach new to a program, is that the returning players won't buy into our philosophy," added Stangle. "To their credit, the returners, especially the seniors, were and are excited about our systems and our way of doing things. It would have been easy for them to just go through the motions, but they didn't. They worked hard and made a lot of progress this past spring."
In the off-season, the Cowgirls brought in nine freshmen from the high school level. They include Rachael Booth (5-8, Libero, Eaton, Colo.), Shelby Heggie (6-2, OH/MB, Laramie, Wyo.), Angie Hellbaum (5-10, OPP, Wheatland, Wyo.), Lauren Scott (6-1, MB, Lone Tree, Colo.), Rachel Smith (5-11, OH, Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Andrea Tuck (6-1, OH, Erie, Colo.), Emily Veenker (5-10, OH, Auburn, Wash.), Jenny Vogelgesang (5-10, S, Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and Michelle Weydert (5-7, Libero, Tacoma, Wash.). With the addition of the talented newcomers, Stangle feels they will not only provide more depth, but each could really compete for valuable playing time entering the 2004 campaign.
This year's schedule will be both competitive and challenging for this Cowgirl team, as they will have a balance of home and road matches during their pre-conference schedule. They will open up at the MPG by hosting Idaho State, UT-San Antonio and 2003 Final Four Participant Minnesota at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic, on Sept. 2-4, in Laramie. On Sept. 10-11, they will travel to Carbondale, Illinois to face Eastern Illinois, UMKC and Southern Illinois at the Saluki Invitational. They will wrap up tournament play at the Idaho State Classic Tournament, Sept. 16-18 in Pocatello, Idaho with match-ups against Gonzaga, Idaho State and New Mexico State. The Cowgirls will also have three non-conference matches against Northern Colorado, North Dakota State and South Dakota State before entering MWC play.
"Our non-conference schedule this year includes three tournaments and three single matches," said Stangle. "I like our schedule as it has us playing some very good opponents at home and on the road. With the number of newcomers we have in the program this year, our non-conference schedule is critical for the development of our younger players as they prepare for a tough Mountain West Conference and, ultimately, the MWC Tournament in November."
This year, Wyoming will once again be challenged by a tough Mountain West Conference schedule. The Cowgirls will see the likes of national powers Brigham Young, Colorado State, and Utah along with Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State. Each team will be playing in a home and away series. In all, the Cowgirls 2004 schedule includes five teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament (BYU, CSU, Minnesota, New Mexico State, Utah). Three of the five teams also finished the season ranked in the final USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll.
The Mountain West Conference Volleyball Championships will be hosted this year by Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Each team in the conference will qualify for the single-elimination tournament, which begins on Thursday November 18, 2004 and runs through Saturday, November 20, 2004.