Aug. 27, 1997
Wildcats Open 1997 Campaign at North Carolina State Labor Day Invitational
A new era in the Northwestern volleyball program opens this weekend as the Wildcats travel to Raleigh, N.C., for the NC State Invitational. The contests mark the first on the Wildcat bench for head coach Kevin Renshler, who spent the past four seasons at the helm of the Kent program. NU returns 11 letterwinners and five starters off last year's team.
Senior Sharon Fisk and junior Liz Renius have been named captains for the 1997 season. Fisk sat out the 1996 campaign after breaking her hand during fall practice. Renius has been the starting setter each of the past two seasons and is just the fifth Wildcat in school history to surpass the 2,000 career assist mark.
A Power Surge
Junior Jessica Holloway is one of the strongest athletes at Northwestern - male or female. The outside hitter posted a leg squat of 350 pounds earlier this fall. Of all current NU student-athletes who weigh 185 pounds or less, Holloway's squat is the sixth best overall and tops among NU female athletes. Of the five 185-pounders above her, all are football players.
The Dig ... And The Kill For Holloway
Junior outside hitter Jessica Holloway (Lafayette, Ind./McCutcheon) has recorded back-to-back seasons of 300 digs and 300 kills. As a freshman, she led NU with 313 kills and 360 digs. Last year, she amassed 306 kills and 370 digs. The 370 digs ranks as the fifth-best season in school history (her 360 digs as a freshman is now seventh best in NU history).
Holloway's 28 digs on Oct. 11 vs. Ohio State was a personal best and marked the best single-match performance in the Big Ten last season.
Set 'Em Up
On the final weekend of the 1996 season, setter Liz Renius (Temperance, Mich./Bedford) became the fifth player in NU history to record 2,000 career assists. She enters the 1997 season with 2,044 assists. Heather Fredin (1988-91) is in fourth place with 2,194 assists. The NU career mark of 3,634 assists is held by Renius' predecessor, Jeanne Wohlberg (1991-94).
Renius' offensive production improved tremendously over her freshman campaign. As a freshman, she hit .154 and tallied an average of 9.04 assists per game (932 total). Last season, she finished second on the team in hitting at .208 and averaged 10.39 apg. Renius was named all-tournament twice in 1996 (Chicago Challenge and Molten Invitational).
Renius also notched the first triple-double by a Wildcat in seven years. Her triple-double at Iowa on Oct. 19 (11 kills, 22 digs, 61 assists) was the first by an NU player since Miriam Stariha posted a triple-double in 1990, also against the Hawkeyes.
Doan Atop Wildcat Leaders Last Season
Junior middle blocker Melissa Doan (Kalamazoo, Mich./Portage Northern) was unquestionably the most consistent Wildcat last season. She played in all 120 games, the only Wildcat to do so, and was named all-tournament three times (William and Mary, Chicago Challenge, Molten Invitational). No other NU player saw action in more than 112 games. Following the season, she was accorded team MVP honors.
Doan led the team in hitting percentage (.217), total blocks (69) and block solos (18) and finished second behind freshman Kitty Owen in block assists (51). She ranked second on the team in aces (23), third in kills (301) and fourth in digs (216).
Zagorski Notches Terrific Freshman Year
Sophomore outside hitter Jennifer Zagorski (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) was the lone Wildcat to notch 20 or more kills in a match last year, a feat she accomplished five times (20 vs. Bowling Green, 24 vs. William and Mary, 21 vs. Delaware, 22 vs. Missouri, 22 vs. Michigan). She earned the NU single-match highs for kills (24) and total attacks (60), and had one of the highest single-match attack percentage on the year (.444 vs. NC State).
Overall, Zagorski led NU with 367 kills, good for 3.28 kpg. She finished second on the team with 27 aces, eight of which came at the William and Mary tournament. Zagorski also ranked third on the team in digs with 280.
Please add #13 Karen Christman (So., DS, Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood) to the Wildcat roster in the media guide. Christman played in 30 of NU's 33 matches last season and recorded 70 digs. Christman originally was scheduled to study overseas this fall, thus her omission from the media guide.
Wildcats Nearing Win No. 400
The Northwestern volleyball program nears a milestone this season, entering the 1997 campaign with an all-time record of 388-332-5. With 12 more wins, NU would become the ninth Big Ten school to surpass the 400 win mark. Indiana and Michigan are the other two conference schools currently under 400 all-time victories.
The Record Book
Taking a look at where last year's 'Cats ranked among the top individual seasons in school history:
- Kills per game: Jennifer Zagorski (3.28 kpg - ninth in NU history)
- Digs: Jessica Holloway (370 - fifth in NU history)
- Assists: Liz Renius (1122 - sixth in NU history)
Lots of Personal Bests Set in 1996
Several NU players set or tied personal highs last season:
- 19 kills at Iowa (old mark: 18)
- three assists vs. Michigan State (old mark: two)
- two aces three times (now done five times at NU)
- 42 attempts at William and Mary (old mark: 35)
- 17 digs vs. Ohio State (old mark: 15)
- .517 hitting pct. (16-1-29 vs. Purdue)
- three aces vs. Delaware (now done twice at NU)
- 28 digs vs. Ohio State (old mark: 24)
- two block solos vs. Missouri (old mark: one)
- four total blocks (now done twice)
- 11 kills at Iowa (old mark: seven)
- 63 assists vs. Bowling Green (old mark: 52)
- five aces vs. Kansas State (old mark: two)
- one block solo (now done eight times at NU)
- .778 hitting pct. (7-0-9, vs. Marquette)
- 16 kills vs. NC State (old mark: eight)
- 44 total attempts vs. Kansas State (old mark: 35)
- three assists vs. SWMO (old mark: two)
- 17 digs vs. Kansas State (old mark: 12)
Head Coach Kevin Renshler
Kevin Renshler (Ohio State, '87) is in his first season as NU head coach and his fifth season overall. His career record stands at 56-67. Renshler spent four seasons at head coach at Kent (1993-96) before taking over the Northwestern program. Last year, Renshler guided Kent to a 20-12 overall mark, a 10-7 record in the MAC and an impressive 13-1 home record. The 10-7 conference record was the first winning conference season in school history.