The Service Line

Volleyball News from the MSU SideOut Club
Vol. III No. 1
August 1997


Pavlus Retires; Freshman Will Set
Start the Season Right with SideOut Club Events in August
Val Sterk Joins the National Team
Morales and Wrobel Win Pre-Season Big Ten Honors--Spartans Picked to Finish Second
Team Notes
On The Fall Schedule
MSU Volleyball Media Guide Wins National Honors
Changes at the End of the Bench
Ex-Spartans to Play Professional Volleyball in Europe
SideOut Club Calendar for 1997
SideOut Club Report
1997 Schedule
Credits and Copyright Notice

Pavlus Retires; Freshman Will Set

The MSU Spartans have lost yet another of last year's starters, with the announcement that Julie Pavlus has left the team due to injury.

In 1996, Julie was plagued by back problems which got progressively worse. The off-season was no kinder to her, and in spite of rest and treatment, she was unable to participate in spring practice. Last week, with the opening of fall practice just over two weeks away, she decided to call it quits.

Chuck Erbe says new recruit Vicki Basil is the primary candidate for starting setter, with junior Kelly Penney as her backup. Vicki is a 5' 10" setter from Bay City who also played basketball at Bay City Central High School.

What does this mean for MSU's offense? Combined with the loss of All-American middles Dana Cooke and Val Sterk, plus the return of veteran left-side hitters Veronica Morales and Jenna Wrobel, it's logical to expect a swing to the left in MSU's offense.

Chuck confirmed this, saying "The last few years, when our outside hitters had an off match, we knew we could always rely on the middle. With Val Sterk leading the country in hitting efficiency, we could set her and expect that 60 percent of the time she would get a kill. This year, the effectiveness of the outside will determine the success of the team."

Returnee Jenny Whitehead is pretty certain of a starting spot, as Chuck expects her to replace Val Sterk at the M1 position. New recruit Sarah Gustin will probably back her up in that spot.

At the other middle position, Chuck says "Senior Lindsay Clayton will certainly have a shot at starting there, after waiting in the wings for a few years." Her competition could well come from freshman Jessica Sanborn. The situation on the right side is similar, with senior Corie Richard a definite contender, along with newcomer Christie Landry.

Start the Season Right with SideOut Club Events in August

The month of August will feature a host of SideOut Club activities this year, with several continuing events and one new one. Put these on your calendar and come out to have some fun with us!

Meet-the-Team Picnic

We'll start with a new event, one that we expect to become a fan favorite. On Sunday, August 10, you're all invited to Jenison Field House for the SideOut Club Meet-the-Team Picnic.

The afternoon starts at 4:00 pm inside Jenison, where we'll watch the last hour of the team's initial day of practice for fall. At 5:00 pm, we'll move outside for food and drink, provided by the SideOut Club. The team will join us about 5:30, when you'll have an opportunity to mingle with them. After everyone has eaten, Chuck will formally introduce the players and fill us in on what to expect from the upcoming season.

There is no charge for the event, but we will accept donations to cover the costs of the food. We hope the picnic can serve as a SideOut Club membership drive, so please bring friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. who may be interested in MSU volleyball.

MSU has what is acknowledged as one of the top five recruiting classes in the nation this year, so don't miss this opportunity to see them on the court in Jenison for the first time, and meet them in person!

Golf Outing

The second annual SideOut Club golf fund-raiser will be held Friday, August 15 at the MSU Forest Akers West golf course. Registration will start at 11:00 am, and tee times will be between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. A buffet dinner and award presentations will start at 5:30 pm.

Chuck Erbe will be the honorary chairperson, and members of MSU's volleyball squad will be special guests. The price per person is $75, of which $50 is a tax-deductible donation to support MSU volleyball. There are also opportunities available for corporate sponsors. For more information call Dianna Kaplinski (394-3557) or Sandy Kilbourn (432-4979 daytime).

Last year's participants thoroughly enjoyed the weather, the golf, and the steak dinner. There were lots of prizes to go around, and the members of the team helped in handing these out to the winners. Be sure to reserve August 15 for this fun event!

Green & White Match

The 1997 Spartans will put their fully-practiced skills on display for the first time on Saturday, August 23 when the Green & White intra-squad match is held. Admission is free to all, and the atmosphere is casual and fun for the 7:00 pm match. Forget about the Michigan Festival for one night, and come to campus for this preview of the 1997 volleyball season.

Coming Up--Coach's Luncheons

This season the SideOut Club will be sponsoring five home-weekend luncheons featuring Coach Chuck Erbe. These will be held at noon on selected Fridays and Saturdays, at a location to be determined. The first luncheon will be Friday, September 5, in conjunction with the MSU Invitational Tournament. The other dates include three Saturdays--September 25, October 18 and November 8--and end with a Friday luncheon on November 28.

Each luncheon will include a special guest, such as an opposing coach or a Spartan player. We had our first trial run at a coach's luncheon last season, which everyone in attendance found to be entertaining and informative. From now on they will be a regular feature every season.

Val Sterk Joins the National Team

Ex-Spartan Val Sterk appears to be in the fast lane to volleyball success. At the end of May, she was named to the United States national volleyball team, where she immediately became one of the starting middle blockers.

Val was originally selected in March for the training squad that will represent the United States at the World University Games in Sicily, Italy, August 19-31. The World University Games feature players who are attending college or are recent college graduates. However, when training began in May, she was quickly singled out for promotion to the national team.

According to Chuck Erbe, this was inevitable. He explained, "Val has skills in every part of the game, knows how to move on the court, and has an incredible work ethic, all of which combine to put her head and shoulders above her contemporaries".

On the Court in Grand Rapids

We had our first look at Val wearing the big "USA" at an exhibition match against the German national team in Grand Rapids on July 16. The team has been completely revamped since last year's Olympics, so Val's teammates were as inexperienced at international play as she is. (The one exception among the starters was setter Salima Davidson, a 1995 Penn State graduate, who has 46 international matches on her résumé.)

The players have had less than two months of practice together, which was evident from the play on the court. The teams played like a couple of good college teams, not like international powerhouses. The U.S. won the match 3-2, with an exciting comeback from an 11-14 deficit in the rally-scoring fifth game. The following night, Germany won in five games. As the exhibition tour progressed through Texas to Colorado, reports indicate that the U.S. team started to gel, resulting in three more victories, 3-0, 3-1, and 3-0.

Val is not being used as a passer on the national team, as Mick Haley's offense seems to depend on the outside hitters and the opposite hitter to receive serve in all rotations. We also saw somewhat fewer slide plays from her than we're accustomed to in MSU's system. But the hometown crowd went crazy over her, as you'd expect.

Perhaps the best moment of the match was when Val's ex-teammates from MSU arrived during warmups and she spotted them. She broke into a huge grin, which seemed to say "Can you believe I'm actually out here living my dream?" Certainly no one is more deserving than Val.

National Team Fall Tour Could Include MSU

The national team will be making another U.S. tour in the fall, playing against top college teams as they did last fall. MSU is under serious consideration as one of the opponents, but the talk right now is of a match in Grand Rapids.

Coach Mick Haley says the determining factor could be television--wherever they can arrange a local broadcast of the match would have to be considered the front-runner. Since most Spartan fans would rather see the match come to East Lansing, let's hope something can be worked out in our area. Some phone calls or letters to local TV stations certainly wouldn't hurt.

Morales and Wrobel Win Pre-Season Big Ten Honors--Spartans Picked to Finish Second

Big Ten coaches recently voted on their pre-season All-Conference team, selecting Spartans Veronica Morales and Jenna Wrobel among the twelve players. Only Penn State placed more players on the team, and Illinois was the only school other than MSU to have both of their outside hitters selected.

Chuck says the surprise to him in the voting was that Veronica and Jenna were not unanimous selections. "I just can't imagine how anyone could look at the players in the Big Ten and not vote for those two", he commented. The full pre-season team was as follows:
Player Year Pos School
Vanessa Wouters* Sr OH Ohio State
Bonnie Bremner* So S Penn State
Lauren Cacciamani* So MB Penn State
Terri Zemaitis* Sr MB Penn State
Mary Coleman Jr OH Illinois
Tracey Marshall So OH Illinois
Sarah Jackson Sr MB Michigan
Veronica Morales Sr OH MSU
Jenna Wrobel Jr OH MSU
Becky Bauer Sr S Minnesota
Heather Dodaro Sr MB Wisconsin
Amy Lee Sr OH Wisconsin

*unanimous selection

The coaches also made their pre-season predictions of the order of finish in the conference for 1997. Penn State was a unanimous choice for first place. Michigan State placed second in the poll (conducted prior to the announcement of Julie's departure), garnering all but one of the second-place votes. Wisconsin appears to be the team on the rise this year, ranked third after last year's fifth place finish. The full rankings were as follows:
Rank School Votes 1996 Finish
1 Penn State 121 1
2 MSU 109 1
3 Wisconsin 95 5
4 Ohio State 81 3
5 Minnesota 77 4
6 Illinois 67 7
7 Michigan 60 6
8 Indiana 41 10
9 Purdue 35 8
10 Iowa 26 9
11 Northwestern 15 11

Team Notes

More New Recruits...

In addition to new setter Vicki Basil, MSU volleyball announced two more recruits for fall.

Becky Cummings is a 6'1" middle blocker who will be attending MSU on a basketball scholarship. She won multiple honors at Walled Lake Central, including All-State in both basketball and volleyball, and was recruited in basketball by national champion Connecticut. She will have red-shirt status for volleyball this year.

A new out-of-stater is Bridget Gurtler, a back-row specialist from Champaign, Illinois.

Previously-announced freshman Marin Witzel is now expected to red-shirt her freshman year.

And One Departure

Allison Ross has left MSU, returning to California to attend school there. The congenital back problem which kept her out last season will apparently make it impossible for her to play competitive volleyball.

Spartan Coach is in Demand

Chuck Erbe has had a very busy summer, proving there's no such thing as an off-season for the coach. In early June he spent ten days at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, running training and practice sessions for the U.S. national women's team. For the last two weeks of June, he traveled to Norway to work with the men's and women's national teams there. In July, he crossed the U.S. from coast to coast making home visits to recruits, in addition to running volleyball camps in East Lansing.

The Chuck Erbe Show will move to WLNS-TV channel 6 this season, remaining in its Sunday noon time slot. The starting date is not determined, but will be sometime in September.

Recruits Earn National Recognition

On July 8, in Denver, Colorado, two of MSU's incoming freshman players--Christie Landry and Sarah Gustin-- competed against each other for the national championship of juniors volleyball. The match, in the 18-Open division of the USA Volleyball Junior Nationals Championship, was between the Mizuno Sports Performance team of West Chicago, IL and the Nike Ichiban team of Long Beach, CA.

The winner, in three very close games, was Christie Landry's Sports Performance team. Both Christie and Sarah were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Another of our soon-to-be freshmen, Jessica Sanborn, has been training with the United States Youth National Team. They will travel to Brazil about the time you read this to compete against the Brazilian Youth National Team. When Jessica returns from that trip, she will head straight for the MSU campus.

Continuing a Trend

Overall, the Spartans continue to get taller year after year. The 1997 team will boast eleven players hitting the tape between 6 feet and 6' 4" tall.

On The Fall Schedule

Season Tickets

Season tickets are now available; call 355-1610 or 1-800-GO-STATE. Courtside seating will expand around both ends of the court this year. The standard season tickets will no longer get you specific seats, but instead a reserved section, which will be located behind the team benches. Prices are $68 per ticket, $34 for those under 19 or over 54. Courtside seats require a Ralph Young Fund contribution of $225 per ticket. General admission stays at $5 for adults, $3 for youths.

Match Notes

If you've looked at the updated fall schedule yet, you may have noticed the addition of an unusual name--Russia. This match came about after Chuck was contacted by a team in search of college opponents for a two-week tour of the U.S. They play in Russia's "super league", and have some national team players on their roster. Other teams they will play include Michigan, Purdue, Ball State, and Northwestern.

One of the most interesting competitors in MSU's fall tournaments will be the University of Southern California. Chuck Erbe was the head coach at USC from 1976 to 1988, where he lead the Trojans to four national championships. This will be the first match since then in which Chuck has faced his old school. USC's current coach, Lisa Love, has been with the Trojans since she was chosen as Chuck's successor in 1989. The team's best performance under Love was in 1994, when the Trojans reached the West regional final.

The big trucks with their dish antennas will be rolling up to Jenison Field House at least once this season. ESPN plans a live broadcast of the Penn State match on November 28. Their broadcast schedule will feature other Big Ten matches as well, including MSU's visit to Wisconsin on November 15. The NCAA decided not to allow non-standard scoring methods in collegiate matches this season, so this will provide an interesting test of how well traditional volleyball can work on live television.

MSU Volleyball Media Guide Wins National Honors

MSU volleyball is winning awards not only for performances on the court, but also for work on the printed page. The 1996 Michigan State University volleyball media guide was honored as one of the best in the nation by the College Sports Information Directors of America. A free copy of each year's guide is a benefit of your SideOut Club membership.

The MSU guide, written and designed by assistant sports information director Lori Schulze, took seventh place, behind Texas A&M in first, followed by Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and Texas Tech. MSU was also the overall winner in District 4. The covers were designed by Tony Moore of Moore Design, with the photography provided by MSU's Kevin Fowler.

Changes at the End of the Bench

Nationally, there have been a few coaching changes that Spartan fans may find interesting.

In the Big Ten, we'll see one new coach this year--Kevin Renshler, who moved west from Kent State to take the helm at Northwestern. He replaces Margie Fitzpatrick, who in three years at Northwestern had compiled a 26-69 record, with three consecutive eleventh-place finishes in the conference.

Former (1985-92) MSU coach Ginger Mayson has been named head volleyball coach at the University of South Alabama. She played volleyball at South Alabama, graduating in 1977, and was later their coach in 1981 and 1982. She went on to become assistant coach at Kansas State for two years before coming to Michigan State.

Nationally, the most noteworthy coaching change is at Texas, where Mick Haley left to guide the USA women's national team. He's replaced by Jim Moore, who just spent three years at Kansas State. Moore is best known in Michigan for his transformation of Northern Michigan University volleyball from a sub-.500 program to a national power in Division II. He capped his career at Northern with a national championship in 1993, in an incredible 38-1 season.

Ex-Spartans to Play Professional Volleyball in Europe

Courtney DeBolt has signed a one-year contract to play professionally for the Dick De Lange Volco volleyball club in Zwolle, Holland, as the team's No. 1 setter. She will depart for Holland in September and will play with the club until the conclusion of the 1997-98 season in May. The club finished second in the Dutch Championships last season and qualified for the European Cup.

Better yet, she may be joined on the squad by her former Spartan teammate Dana Cooke. As of this writing, Dana had not yet signed a contract, but was in negotiations with the Volco team.

Play in overseas leagues has been a popular choice for U.S. players after they graduate from college. The success of professional volleyball in Europe, Japan and elsewhere has provided U.S. players with a much more lucrative outlet for their skills than they can find at home. Players typically receive a monthly salary in addition to room and board. Courtney hooked up with a sports marketing agent to look for opportunities in pro volleyball, which resulted in the offer from Holland.

Courtney graduated from MSU in May of 1997 with degrees in nutritional science and dietetics. Her DeBolt lineage is Dutch, and she has visited Holland once before, when she was thirteen years old.

Courtney also made an impressive showing at the USA Volleyball Nationals competition in Kansas City in May. Her Exterminators team finished third in the most competitive division, the Open Gold. Courtney was captain of the team and was awarded second-team All Tournament honors. Her teammates included Lauren Cacciamani, who had an outstanding freshman year at Penn State this past season, and Karrie Downey, who is one of the new members of the U.S. national team.

SideOut Club Calendar for 1997

Date Event Location Time
August 10 Meet-the-Team Picnic Jenison Field House 4:00 pm
August 15 Golf Outing Forest Akers West 11:00 am
August 23 Green & White Match Jenison Field House 7:00 pm
September 5 Coach's Luncheon TBD 12:00 pm
September 27 Coach's Luncheon TBD 12:00 pm
October 18 Coach's Luncheon TBD 12:00 pm
November 8 Coach's Luncheon TBD 12:00 pm
November 28 Coach's Luncheon TBD 12:00 pm

SideOut Club Report

Membership Renewal Time

Although we send the first newsletter of the year to all of last year's members, it is time for most of you to renew your memberships. Those who need to renew should receive a renewal notice next week.

The SideOut Club membership year runs from July 1 to June 30, but for those who join during the "off-season" (between January 1 and June 30) we extend the membership to the following year.

Board of Directors' Election

At the March membership meeting, one current director--Bob Alim-Young--was re-elected, along with three new directors--Jim Ellis, David Kirkby, and J. Michael Smith. We were encouraged by the good turnout of members, which resulted in a productive meeting. We hope that all members will try to attend next year's meeting.

The new Board elected Dianna Kaplinski as president, Sandy Kilbourn as vice-president, Dave Pike as treasurer, and Laura Willard as secretary.

Volunteers Needed

For the first three years of the Club's existence, most of the volunteer work has been done by the Board of Directors. Last season we had the first significant number of volunteers from among the membership, which was extremely helpful. Those who have volunteered tell us they have a lot of fun doing it.

This year we need lots of volunteers to sell merchandise and raffle tickets during home matches. Volunteering will be even better this season, since our merchandise table will be in a new location where workers will be able to watch the match. If you can spare some time to help at one or more home matches, please call Jim Ellis at (517) 323-3566.

Financial Summary - Year Ending June 30, 1997

Income Expense Net Income
1996 balance brought forward $ 4,490.44
Membership dues 4,765.00 4,765.00
Merchandise sales 13,353.63 8,390.03 4,963.60
50/50 raffle 8,505.98 6,000.52 2,505.46
Golf tournament 3,469.00 2,272.51 1,196.49
Penn State bus trip 992.00 2,723.10 (1,731.10)
Final Four tickets 1,470.00 1,502.00 (32.00)
Credit union interest, fees 277.64 11.00 266.64
Newsletter and membership brochure 825.51 (825.51)
Other office supplies, copying, postage 533.85 (533.85)
Hospitality area at matches and spring tournament 204.27 (204.27)
Miscellaneous expenses 310.40 (310.40)
Contributions to MSU Volleyball
Ralph Young Fund 1,500.00 (1,500.00)
Banners for Jenison 2,800.00 (2,800.00)
Chuck Erbe TV Show 1,500.00 (1,500.00)
Locker Room Improvements 410.00 (410.00)
Banquet Table Sponsorship 300.00 (300.00)
Total Contributions $6,510.00 (6,510.00)
Total income and expenditures $32,833.25 $29,283.19 $3,550.06
Balance as of 6/30/97 $8,040.50

1997 Schedule

(All home matches are played in Jenison Field House)
8/23 Green & White Match 7:00 pm
8/29 USC vs. Xavier 5:00 pm
MSU vs. Duke 7:00 pm
8/30 Duke vs. USC 10:00 am
MSU vs. Xavier 12:00 pm
Xavier vs. Duke 6:00 pm
MSU vs. USC 8:00 pm
9/5 BGSU vs. Duquesne 5:00 pm
MSU vs. Drake 7:00 pm
9/6 Drake vs. BGSU 10:00 am
MSU vs. Drake 12:00 pm
Duquesne vs. Drake 5:00 pm
MSU vs. BGSU 7:00 pm
9/9 Russia 7:00 pm
9/12-13 @Santa Barbara Judy Bellomo Classic (UCSB, LMU, Arizona St., Portland St, South Florida.)
9/19-20 @Kentucky Invitational
(Kentucky, Butler, Eastern Illinois)
9/26 WISCONSIN 7:00 pm
9/28 ILLINOIS 2:00 pm
10/3 @Michigan 7:00 pm
10/5 @Northwestern
10/10 @Purdue
10/11 @Ohio State
10/17 IOWA 7:00 pm
10/18 MINNESOTA 7:00 pm
10/24 @Indiana
10/25 @Penn State
10/31 NORTHWESTERN 7:00 pm
11/2 MICHIGAN (Jam Jenison III) 2:00 pm
11/7 OHIO STATE 7:00 pm
11/8 PURDUE 7:00 pm
11/14 @Illinois
11/15 @Wisconsin
11/21 @Minnesota
11/22 @Iowa
11/28 PENN STATE 7:00 pm
11/29 INDIANA 7:00 pm
12/3-6 NCAA 1st and 2nd round
12/12-13 NCAA Regionals
12/18-20 NCAA Final Four
Washington State University

The Service Line

Copyright 1997 by the MSU SideOut Club, the official support group of Michigan State University women's volleyball.
Newsletter Editor: Chris Wolf (517) 332-4353
President: Dianna Kaplinski (517) 394-3557
Vice-president: Sandy Kilbourn (517) 432-4979
Secretary: Laura Willard (517) 394-1549
Treasurer: Dave Pike (517) 626-9914

MSU SideOut Club
P.O. Box 80491
Lansing MI 48908