GALESBURG, Illinois – The 2018 Prairie Fire volleyball season officially begins on August 18 as athletes return to campus. Ashley McDonough is entering her fourth season as head coach and is coming off the most single-season wins since 1995.
“We will bring back the most returners since I was hired and I’m excited to have so much experience and familiarity on the roster,” said McDonough. “Additionally, we have another group of very talented newcomers who are expected to make an immediate impact on the program.”
The volleyball team will consist of nine returners, four first-years, and one transfer.
Assisting McDonough is Brady Sember (Streator, IL). In 2017, Sember acted as the team manager handling film, equipment, and some administrative duties. In preparation for his new role, he attended a very in-depth volleyball training with former USA gold medalist Pat Powers and completed his USA Volleyball IMPACT certification.
Valerie Froeming (Alturas, CA) and Kyle Yang (Indian Head Park, IL) will be acting as team managers.
2018 newcomers include Shalana Atwell (Geneseo, IL), Katie Anderson (Zionsville, IN), Kylie Wolf (Greenville, WI), Sally Bessette (Antioch, IL), and Autumn Schneider (Carmi, IL).
Atwell is a junior transferring to Knox from Black Hawk College. When asked about the transition she said, “The people that I have met in the volleyball program are extremely kind and accepting. This has made me very excited to transfer into this program.”
This group of athletes adds much needed physicality and talent to the team. With all their potential, they will be the perfect complement to the returning players.
Mady Ferris (Sterling, IL), Marissa Akers (Shelbyville, IN), and Emily Mosher (Glen Ellyn, IL) are major players to watch this year.
Ferris racked up over 500 digs as a first-year and had the most digs per set in the conference. For her upcoming sophomore season Ferris says, “I feel more confident coming into this season after seeing time as a first-year. I want to produce even more plays to help my team.” Ferris also says she is not as focused on individual records, but the team as a whole.
Akers is making her return to the court after an extended illness. Akers has an optimistic attitude and says, “I’m super excited about coming back this season. Coaching last season has taught me so much about my team and my personal game.” Akers is excited to see all the talent in the incoming class since she had a hand in recruiting them.
Mosher’s 770 assists led the team in 2017 and ranked fourth best in the conference. She will look to improve on her assist total for the second straight season.
Kaitlyn Haase (Kelso, WA) also raved about how much coaching has helped her on the court. Haase spent the summer at an internship coaching kids in the Northeast. When asked how she thinks this experience will help her this season, she said “It will help me better understand other players, not only the returners but the new girls as well. The amount of patience I learned this summer is crazy. I am excited to apply these lessons both on and off the court.”
The volleyball team is looking forward to growing and bonding with each other, as well as having another record breaking season. With so much talent and drive it will be tough to ignore them.