Building a volleyball tradition

Four seniors return to the ISU volleyball squad with one mission - to start building something special.

For the ISU volleyball squad this season looks to be the start of something special. The foundation of a volleyball tradition is being laid by first year head coach Christy Johnson.


Johnson took over the squad in mid-December and feels right at home with the Cyclones.


 "[Iowa State] appealed to me because I felt like I could win here and that mean's I've got good support from the administration (budget wise), and it's a good school," she said. "It's got good academics and it's a place I feel I can recruit people too."


Johnson knows what it takes to build a winner. She was a former two-time all-American at Nebraska and was the starting setter on the Husker team that won the 1995 NCAA Championship.


Following her collegiate career she went on to be an assistant coach at Wisconsin; during her eight seasons with the Badgers, Wisconsin has qualified each season for the NCAA Tournament and won the Big 10 championship three times.


Heading into her first season with Iowa State, Johnson has some pretty good pieces to build around coming off the Cyclones 8-21 (1-19 Big 12) season.


Senior setter Amanda Craig anchors the squad; she started 103 of a possible 104 games last season.


The West Des Moines Valley grad ranked ninth in the Big 12 in assists, averaging 10.97 per game. Overall her 1,130 assists last year rank fourth in ISU history.


Juniors Nicole Lorenzen and Katie Jessen are the attackers on the squad.


Lorenzen led Iowa State in attacks with 969 and was second in kills with 269, while Jessen paced the squad with 274 kills and 833 attacks.


Blocking is the specialty of seniors Katie Kruenegel and Ashlie McWee; the two recorded 68 blocks each last season.


Katie Churm is one of the top liberos in the Big 12 and is fully recovered from an injury that sidelined her towards the end of last season.


Katy Amundson, Erin Boeve, Meghan Frerrie and Laura Cady will provide depth at their respective positions.


"We return just about everybody," Johnson said. "There's a lot more experience in the group. I think they're a lot hungrier. We've got a big class of seniors and some strong leadership. I'm very happy with our seniors and returners. They just seem like they want to work hard and get after it and they want more for our team."


Four new faces also join the squad: freshmen Amy Vos, Alyssa Gintant and Mary Bisenius and Marquette transfer Jessica Klein.


Johnson also brought in two new assistant coaches – Joe Lynch and Dawn Sullivan.


Even with all of the new faces, the players said things haven't been overwhelming. It's been a good fit for both Johnson and Iowa State.


As for this season Johnson has a simple goal – all-around improvement.


"My No. 1 goal is for other teams to walk away and think this is a much better team than last year," she said. "If [we can do that] we're going to be in good shape and put ourselves in a position to win."


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