Volleyball coaches discuss D-I journey, Norse community

NKU’s volleyball team is entering its second season in Division I, coming off a 25-7 season in which the team finished third in the conference, with a few new faces on the staff. The coaching staff consists of Head Coach Liz Hart, Assistant Coach Randi Raff, and Graduate Assistant Katie Grajewski. Grajewski, a native of Covington, Wash., is entering her first season as a graduate assistant, after being an assistant for Centaury High School in Idaho. “I like how personal everyone is,” Grajewski said. “I’ve only been here for two and a half months. I just like how nice the school is, and we have a Starbucks. I love Starbucks. I just love the environment here, everyone’s just so welcoming and nice.” Grajewski, who graduated from Idaho State University after playing volleyball for four years, is hopeful her stay here can help her collegiate coaching career. “I’d say one on my goals is to help NKU,in the two seasons I’m here, so we can be conference regular season champs,” Grajewski said. “Then, to further my career and get an assistant spot at another university.” Assistant Coach Randi Raff graduated from the University of Southern Indiana where she played collegiate volleyball. Her most recent coaching stop was at Christopher Newport University, where she led the team to the Division III national runner-up in 2011. “It was really tough to leave; however, I knew I wanted to gain some experience at the D-I level as a top assistant, and in this…area because we’re at a hotbed for volleyball,” Raff said. “NKU was attractive for me, being I knew them as a player, so I took the job already knowing it was a solid program and a good place to be.” Raff was nominated on American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Thirty Under 30 for upcoming men’s and women’s volleyball coach during her time at Christopher Newport, and was the only Division III coach on the list. “I really like the people, but I also think the most exciting thing is how bright the future is for our athletic department with our new leadership,” Raff said. “I think we’re forming a clear vision for the future, and it’s going to be really fun building it. Also, building towards this championship we can get in 2016, because we have to look at recruiting and what we’re going to look like in three years.” Meanwhile, Hart is entering her fourth season as the head coach of the volleyball team after taking over in 2010 as the interim head coach. Hart is a graduate of NKU and played volleyball at the university for four seasons. Hart was a three-time All-American in her playing career, and received the postgraduate scholarship. She was also the recipient of the Great Lakes Valley Conference woman of the year award. “NKU’s very exciting… There’s a lot of growth and we have strong leadership with President Mearns and our new AD [Athletic Director], Ken,” Hart said. “I think we can do a lot of great things in athletics. We’re still growing, new buildings are being built every day, and as an athletic program, we’re just rising to the top. Thus far, the team’s season has started out a little rocky, starting 0-3. But the Norse have bounced back, winning four of their last six matches, which has the Norse currently at 4-5. “I want to win championships,” Hart said. “Right now we’re working to build a program that’s consistent and can win championships when we can compete in 2016. Right now it’s important to get the right student athletes, graduate the student athletes, and make sure they’re the best they can be academically, athletically, and out in the community. So that’s what we’re working on right now.”