Last year the Peru State College Bobcat women's volleyball team posted a 10-23 overall record and a 2-7 Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) mark for the season. After a tough non- conference season, the Bobcats ended the year going 5-4, just missing the HAAC conference tournament. The 'Cats look to have an improved year this season as they build off last year's efforts.
This fall, seven returners, plus one redshirt, will be joined by eight newcomers who will be transitioning into Bobcat head coach Melvin Balogh's coaching system. With the solid core of returners and the talented newcomers, the outlook for the Bobcat's season looks much brighter this year.
The returners will be led by all-conference honorable mention selection junior setter Courtney Jurek (Bellevue) and senior middle hitter Brittany Peterson (Orem, Utah). Jurek finished the 2012 season with 623 assists. After just two years in the program, she needs 81 assists to crack the top ten career mark. Peterson led the Bobcat middles in kills last season with 96.
Joining these two will be five other returners, all who saw plenty of action last season. They are senior setter Paige Riza (Ravenna, Texas); junior outside hitter Carrie Lierz (Holton, Kan.) and redshirt junior outside hitter Bre Brandt (Papillion); and sophomores – defensive specialist Mallory Hull (Morse Bluff), defensive specialist Angie Bowers (Alda), and outside hitter Lindsey Nelson (Granite Bay, Calif.). Nelson was named a HAAC Player of the Week during the 2012 season.
Eight newcomers will be joining the squad this year. Of the eight, four are transfer and four are freshman. The junior transfers include outside hitter Sarah Mertens (Lincoln), right side Rachel West (El Dorado, Kan.), defensive specialist Allison Glathar (Dawson), and setter Hope Harsh (Cassoday, Kan.). The freshman recruits include defensive specialist Paige Young (Gretna), middle hitter Madison Sutton (Gretna), outside hitter Amanda Bazer (Emerson, Iowa), and defensive specialist Jordyn Lukasiewicz (Farwell). It is anticipated that Bazer will redshirt during the 2013 season.
While no official preseason has been poll taken, Balogh expects the HAAC to be tough. Balogh noted, "As a coach I am excited about competing in the HAAC. It is a very competitive conference. Not only do the teams compete at a high level, no matter the gym or night, any HAAC team can be the victor."
MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) looks to be the team to beat again this year as they ended the 2012 season ranked seventh in the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Last year, MNU finished with a 29-5 record winning the HAAC postseason tourney and advancing to the NAIA National Championship quarterfinals before being knocked out of the tournament by Biola University.
Last season, Peru State finished in the lower part of the conference at eighth with a 2-7 conference mark. They just missed out on the HAAC post-season tournament as they were tied with Benedictine
Page 2 of 3 - College for eighth, but Benedictine had received the bid to play in the tourney as they won the tie breaker having defeated Peru State in the regular season.
The Rest of the Schedule
The Bobcats will be participating in several quality tournaments during the early part of their season.
The first tournament will be the Mount Mercy Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is hosted by Mount Mercy College. The opponents for the 'Cats will be the American International Business College (AIB), Mount Marty University, Ashford University, and William Penn University.
The second major tourney will be Bellevue University Labor Day Tournament. Key opponents in this tournament will include Northwestern College, Midland University, John Brown University, and Viterbo University. Viterbo finished ranked eighth in the final NAIA coaches' poll in 2012 with Bellevue finishing 17th while Midland was among those receiving votes.
The last away tournament will be the Avila University Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. The Bobcats opponents will be Park University, Kansas Wesleyan University, McPherson College, and University of St. Mary. Kansas Wesleyan is coached by former Bobcat volleyball head coach Fred Aubuchon.
Two more key tournaments hosted by Peru State will round out the 'Cats tournaments this season. They include the Claws Out Volleyball Challenge and the 1,000 Oaks Invite. The opponents in the Claws Out tourney will be Mount Marty College, AIB, College of St. Mary, and Grace University (Neb.). During the 1,000 Oaks Invite the squad will play Central Methodist University and Clarke University.
Kelsey Monahan (Atkinson) will be serving in her first season of competition as a graduate assistant coach for the volleyball team. She joined the staff last spring after coaching at Colby Community College the previous season. A former Bobcat volleyball player, Monahan graduated with her B.S. in psychology and criminal justice counseling in 2011 from Peru State. Monahan was a two-time Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete.
Balogh will be assisted again this season by two former players. Amanda Gilreath (Omaha) and Natalie Wood (North Platte) played for the Bobcats two years ago, but moved into student assistant roles last season. They both will be serving in their second season as student assistants.
More on the Coach
Balogh comes to Peru State from McNeese State University, an NCAA DI program in Lake Charles, La., where he was in his first year serving as an assistant coach to Terry Gamble, a familiar name to the Nebraska/Iowa area as Gamble had coached at Midland University and Iowa Western Community College. Balogh was actively involved in student-athlete recruitment and was the program's lead fundraiser.
Prior to going to McNeese, Balogh had seven years of NAIA experience. Balogh was the head coach at
Page 3 of 3 - Bacone College (Okla.) for two years in 2009-2011, three years at Sterling College (Kan.) in 2006-09, and two years (2004-06) at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich. In addition, Balogh has ten years of youth club coaching, most recently with the Cowgirl Volleyball Club of southwest Louisiana. Also, Balogh has extensive experience in working summer camps having worked camps at the University of Michigan, Bowling Green University, and McNeese State.
At McNeese State, Balogh had a Southland Conference all-conference player and three academic all- conference student-athletes. While in the NAIA, Balogh has coached six Daktronics NAIA Scholar- Athletes and had one player earn NAIA All-Region IV honors. In the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), Balogh had two all-conference first team honorees, four second team players, six all-freshman team members, and two freshmen of the year runner-ups.
In 2001, Balogh earned his bachelor's degree in Christian Ministry from Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Mich. Balogh completed his master's degree in athletic administration from Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., this summer.
An Ohio native, Balogh is married to the former Kristy Bowes. The couple has three children, Bradin, Annamaria, and Lydia.
Coach Balogh's Final Comments
Balogh added "Along with competing in a strong conference, we will see some very strong teams with our tournament schedule. We will be challenged at every tournament and will be required to play our best to come away with some quality wins."
Schedule and Media Coverage
The complete schedule can be found on the Bobcat athletic website at http://www.pscbobcats.com/schedule.aspx?path=wvball.
Fans will be able to watch home games via Livestream which will be linked to the schedule on the website. In addition, fans can get limited game updates and the media releases via text by signing up at http://www.pscbobcats.com/member/sms_signup.aspx.