Volleyball is motivation to excel in education

The Norse volleyball team has had to wake up every day since last October without a key component to its success. Actually, it was the key component. Not only was the Cincinnati native voted GLVC Player of the Year, but she was given the most prestigious honor in the GLVC as the Woman of the Year-in all sports.

Not too bad for a player excelled in class with a near-perfect GPA; a middle hitter who was voted All-America three times, landing on the first team in 2007 and a student-athlete who put in countless hours.

How four years go by so quickly. But no one is irreplaceable; that’s how athletics at any level operate. Teams lose key components every day to attrition, graduation, and free agency. The women’s basketball team will have to replace Chiodi and Healy.

So it goes.

Now, the Lady Norse find themselves staring at a daunting schedule without the best player in school history.

That’s not to say the cupboard isn’t empty. And the GLVC coaches picked Northern 3rd in the Eastern division, just a step or two behind 2nd and 1st place Indianapolis and Lewis respectively.

More homegrown talent returns for the Norse, which may help alleviate a brutal schedule. Kristina Eisenmenger, a former Notre Dame standout, netted All-America honorable mention honors in her junior year. She and Holmes provided one of the best 1-2 hitting combinations in the GLVC; now it’s up to Eisenmenger to provide the peg that fills the giant hole left in the middle by the former all-American.

Highland Heights native Natalie Forbes returns for her final season. She led the team and finished 2nd in the conference with nearly 14 assists per game; having Eisenmenger and Holmes certainly helped.

Almost identically to the men’s basketball team, transfers should make an impact. Winona State transfer Kim Nemcek, who led her former school with 73 blocks. Kelsey Wesaw, an all-Great Lakes Conference player at Findlay last year. Wesaw, at 6-3, should provide even more height on an already sizeable front line.

Nobody’s irreplaceable. Again, teams at all levels are going to lose players every year. Perhaps Carlos Chia took a page out of Dave Bezold’s book. Chia has evidently taken it upon himself to bring in what should turn out to be quality transfers. Besides, just because all-everything Holmes is gone doesn’t mean the volleyball program is going to cease to exist.

But it all starts in Florida against a solid Central Oklahoma program that won 32 games last year. Then the road gets rockier against No. 9 Florida Southern and No. 7 Tampa.

A 2-1 start could get the Norse rolling for 2008.