Knights News
The Knights tied the school record for wins with 29 and earned one of its best finishes in school history.
The Knights tied the school record for wins with 29 and earned one of its best finishes in school history.
Volleyball - Wed, Dec. 23, 2009
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After earning the third 20-win season in head coach Dan Findley's career, the Marian University volleyball team had something to prove in 2009. Findley and his staff lost 2006-07 All-Region VIII player Bethany Dulle, but had four seniors, two juniors, and three sophomores returning. Add in a strong crop of freshmen and one solid transfer, and the Knights were poised to expand on the team's 20-18 season in 2008.
Coach Findley was excited about the freshmen that he was putting on the court. A duo from Avon High School and a pair of defensive specialists were the newcomers on a team that went just 2-6 in Mid-Central College Conference play in 2008. The opening to the season did not disappoint.
A split at the Early Bird Challenge against some top-notch opponents opened the campaign, but wins in 10 of their next 12 matches put the Knights at 12-4 after their first 16 matches. They started the MCC season against nationally-ranked Taylor University and became the first team to take a set from the Trojans, who made it to the national tournament, in a Taylor victory. It would be one of the few blemishes on the Knights' record in 2009.
A tough four-set defeat to Saint Francis (Ind.) on September 30 snapped a six-match winning streak, but the Knights responded with another six-match winning streak to move to 18-5 on the campaign and 3-2 in MCC play.
A four-setter against nationally-ranked Madonna University snapped that string of wins, but the Knights won their next match, a four-setter against Spring Arbor, to move to 19-6 on the season and guarantee themselves at least a .500 season in conference play. The ladies wanted more, much more.
The win over SAU started another five-match win streak and gave Findley his fourth career 20-win season, but, again, the ladies wanted more. A defeat to Davenport broke the streak, but they closed the regular season with a five-match win streak that included a thrilling five-set win over Goshen College at the Physical Education Center that clinched second place and the No. 2 seed behind undefeated Taylor.
They breezed through NAIA Tournament participant IU-East on Senior Night. The six seniors were honored for their contributions to Marian University volleyball and head coach Dan Findley honored them with an encased volleyball signed by the entire team. However, the seniors' final campaign was not over just yet. A win over Bethel maintained their win streak and sent the Knights to the postseason with high hopes.
The Knights had one of its best-ever regular season finishes in school history, but, they were looking for more in the postseason. They actually had it made, for the most part. They were at home, at least until the final, and just needed to maintain their streak through the MCC Tournament.
They opened the postseason with a rather dominant victory over Huntington University in the first round of the tournament, but Goshen came calling in the semifinals on November 12 at the Physical Education Center. The Maple Leafs proved in the regular season that they were going to take the Knights the distance, and the Knights just needed to figure out how to handle Goshen and maintain its run of results. It was not meant to be for the Knights as the Maple Leafs came out firing and took the first set. The Knights came back in the second set with a win, but dropped the third set. It became a must-win situation, and the Knights responded. They won the fourth set to send the match to a decisive fifth set for the second time this season against Goshen. This time, however, the result did not go Marian's way and their season came to a premature close in the MCC Tournament semifinals.
A phenomenal season that featured votes in the NAIA Top 25, a school record-tying 29 wins, and MCC Coach of the Year honors were just the start of the accolades received by the Knights in 2009.
Findley earned the honor for a fantastic campaign, while freshman Ashley Francis (Avon, Ind./Avon) was named MCC Freshman of the Year, All-Conference first team, and All-Freshman for her outstanding season. Junior Sadie Dizney (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) was named All-Conference first team, while freshman Holly Wasmund (Avon, Ind./Avon) and senior Ashley Hanslits (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) were named All-Conference second team. Wasmund was also named All-Freshman, while Hanslits eclipsed the 1,000 kill plateau during her fifth year at Marian University. She recovered nicely from injury that made her redshirt in 2008-09.
Not only were the Knights honored on the court, but senior Lyndy Errett (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville), who missed a major part of the year due to injury, was also named a Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the second time in volleyball and the third time overall.