Morningside is picked to fifth in the conference after sweeping the GPAC titles last season.
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- -
Last season, the Morningside volleyball team was picked to finish eighth in the preseason GPAC poll. The Mustangs went out and swept the regular season and postseason conference titles. Even with ten letter winners back Morningside is picked in the middle of the pack again.
Head coach Sara Horn, who just had her third child, won GPAC coach of the year honors in her first year at Morningside. The former Nebraska standout led the Mustangs to a 26-9 record and a spot in the NAIA national tournament for the third time in four years.
Even with all of last year's success, Morningside is flying under the radar again and that's OK with the coach.
"We lost five senior starters so we're going to have a completely new team," said Horn. "I think we can use that to our advantage, though. Nobody really knows what we have. We are tied for fifth in the preseason this year so, same mentality. We're looking to surprise some people."
Morningside returns three players with starting experience. Bishop Heelan grad Maggie Vondrak led the team in kills last season and was a first-team all-conference pick. Also a first teamer was Kingsley-Pierson grad Briana Schaeuble, who was fourth on the team with nearly 300 kills. Senior Anastasia Ott also had over 200 kills and led the team in aces.
With so many spots to fill, the upperclassmen say practice has been spirited.
"It is intense," said Vondrak. "Everyone's giving it their all, 100 percent all the time. It makes everyone that much better because everyone's fighting for a spot."
"We know that our spots aren't set in stone and every practice is to prove yourself so everyone's just doing their best," added Schaeuble. "We're still kind of nervous because we just started practice. The freshman, they're even pushing us. There's some really good freshman that we have too."
The Mustangs open the season at the Northwestern Classic on August 24th and 25th, in Orange City, Iowa.
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