Injuries keep new coaching staff active

VB vs La SalleUniversity of Dayton redshirt sophomore middle blocker Angel Agu (8) hits during a match against La Salle University, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at the Frericks Center in Dayton, Ohio. UD won 3-0. (Ethan Klosterman/Photo Editor)

By: KEITH RAAD – Asst. Sports Editor

After the initial meeting with her new coaching staff, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Angel Agu and the rest of the University of Dayton volleyball team went home to take a test.

Head coach Tim Horsmon and his staff handed his new team a personality test and the results were identical. The trait of competitiveness stood out among the rest.

Each student-athlete and each coach was the same. With the spring season ending and the summer beginning, the competitive spirit and nature of the coaching staff will have to sleep with one eye open to meet their newest challenge – recruiting to cope with injuries.

“This is probably the most active that our group has ever been since I’ve been coaching,” Horsmon said. “We were going through six or seven recruits a week.”

The tree of injuries began with the sophomore setter Jenna Jendryk, whose knee injury during a match in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament sidelined her for the remainder of the season. Her timetable as of April is for her to be fully healthy by the season’s kick-off.

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Alyssa Beach has been ruled “medically disqualified” by Horsmon and the staff. Sophomore outside hitter Alaina Turner had her appendix removed during the spring, as well as a few other minor injuries to others.

“Our coaching staff is doing a great job bringing in recruits,” Agu said. “Sure, it’s been kind of hectic but they’ve got it together and we’ll be fine. I have 100 percent faith in them. Tim and the other coaches have such high standards for all of us. We really like him a lot.”

Horsmon returned to UD Dec. 18, 2013, after a stint as the head coach at the University of Maryland. From 2003-2007, Horsmon guided the Flyers to 128-43 record and four NCAA tournament appearances.

Though it flows through Horsmon, his assistant coaches Evan Muys and Audrey Ludwig have been working diligently to fill in a few gaps. Their spry youth and volleyball knowledge have Horsmon feeling confident.

“Through the last few months as we’ve been together, this is going to be the one of the better staffs I’ve worked with,” Horsmon said. “Audrey’s a relentless recruiter and a high-energy person with a level of competitiveness that’s off the charts.”

The energetic Muys also has Horsmon feeling confident as the team installs new offensive strategies.

“I think watching Evan in the gym, he’s already better than I thought he’d be as young as he is. I’m excited to see how he does in the fall because he’s going to run some of our offensive systems. I think he’s going to do a great job,” Horsmon said.

With the hiccups in the spring, the Flyers were not able to compete in any tournaments, but were able to still practice to the fullest with individual training and a full six versus six practice. As far as finding recruits in such little time, Horsman has been searching every possible option.

“We’ve looked at junior colleges, we’ve looked at transfers, we’ve looked at international players and even seniors that are still out there,” Horsmon said.

Because of the injury to Beach, the development in the middle for the Flyers has been stripped down to two: Agu, who will be a junior, and middle blocker Isolde Hannan, who will be a senior. While both are healthy, the recruiting has been for the future and even for the present, to protect against injuries to positions with little depth.

“Basically, we’ve been recruiting for four classes,” Horsmon said. “We’re recruiting the 2014 class, the 2015 class, the 2016 class, and, of course, the 2017 class.”

For Agu and her two years of eligibility remaining, she has nothing but faith in the coaching staff and their crucial skill.

“Our whole coaching staff is so competitive,” Agu said. “The test gave your top five personality traits, and all of the coaches had competitiveness as either top one or top two. With them being so competitive, it makes us want to be that competitive too. It’s pretty cool.”