By: Katie Obear – Staff Writer
The Dayton women’s volleyball team has an intriguing characteristic in the realm of leadership this season. With no seniors on the roster, four juniors are continuing the leadership and legacy of those before them.
Players Amber Erhahon, Maggie Schutter, Jessica Sloan and Jane Emmenecker have grown together on this team since their first season back in 2014, and now have the privilege of being true leaders for two seasons.
Looking back at last season, the majority of leadership was carried out by seniors Alaina Turner, Jill Loiars, Janna Krafka and Angel Agu.
This is a new start for the juniors, as they will have the opportunity to lead the team for the next two seasons. And with the team already playing as well as they are, 13-1 as of their two wins on Sept. 17, the prospects for next season appear as good as they have ever been.
“I’m not sure that this group ever had to take on that role so this is really new territory for them and this has become their program and their voice,” said head coach Tim Horsmon. “Having to do that more often, I think they’ve grown already in the first month and through the spring and summer of doing this on their own.”
Each junior has their own style of leadership on the team and helps form the players into a united group.
“This year it’s basically an entire new team,” said Schutter, a setter. “We have our people we had from last year and we are bringing on six new freshman so it’s kind of cool through all of this, what we do, like as leaders in the program right now, sets our identity for the entire year. Being able to be the ones on top and establishing that, creating our own team identity.”
Erhahon is a middle blocker for the Flyers from Albany, California. She started her time with the team as a standout player, playing in over 110 sets in 35 matches back in 2014. She has also been named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week three times, earned the A-10 Player of the Week honors twice, ranked first in the A-10 in 2015 with a .403 hitting percentage, and is one of the three players last season to play in all 123 sets.
“Amber came from a really strong club program and I think we didn’t know as much as who she was going to be, but loved how she played and obviously was very skilled,” Horsmon said of his middle blocker. “She’s become a driver in our program in terms of energy and very charismatic especially when she is playing well and doing good things.”
Schutter is a setter, and defensive specialist. Originally from Dayton, she played on a local team at Centerville High School before coming to UD. What makes Maggie unique is that volleyball is not the only sport she participated in during her high school years. She was also a four year letter winner in basketball.
Starting her time here with the Flyers, Schutter has been named to the Fall 2015 and Spring 2015 Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, saw action in 30 sets of the 17 matches in 2015 and this season was made a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
“We just loved everything we heard about her. She came on a visit, loved her personality and what she is about, “said Horsmon. “She’s one of the kids that you would to be seen representing your program.”
Currently leading the team in kills, Sloan is an outside hitter from Marietta Georgia, and she was the captain of her team in high school for two years. In 2013, Sloan spent 11 days in China competing against teams in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.
Like Erhahon, Sloan is one of three Flyers to play in all 123 sets in the 2015 season. She recorded 82 kills during her first season, 153 the next, and has already surpassed that total this season with 178.
Emmenecker is a setter from Perrysburg, Ohio and isn’t the first of her family to play sports at the collegiate level. Her parents played water polo at Ohio State, her sister Julie played tennis at Hillsdale, her sister Jacki played volleyball at Wingate, one of her brothers James played rugby at Ohio State and her other brother John plays lacrosse at Robert Morris.
Her freshman year, Emmenecker saw action in each of the 36 matches, was a four-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, started in 29 games last season, and was honored as the A-10 Setter of the year for a second season.
Together these four have set the precedent for the future of Dayton volleyball, which is something that the team focuses on each season with their players regardless of their age.
“I think this group traditionally has been a lead by example,” said Horsmon. “Do their work, get their work done, but now we are asking them to lead a big group of freshman [and] to come in and set the tone. Hopefully what was passed on by a lot of great players before them, especially that leadership group of seniors last year, [continues] what this program is about and what the tradition is.”
This season, UD stormed out of the game to an 11-0 record in a run highlighted by a five-set victory over Northwestern University on Sept. 3. They hit a bump in the road on Sept. 16 in a loss to Loyola Marymount, but quickly regained their footing for two victories on Sept. 17.
Now 13-1, the Flyers will take on George Washington University on Sept. 23 at Frericks Center.