Panthers Take Steps Forward During Spring Season
April 29, 2010
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's volleyball team made some positive steps forward during its recently-completed spring season.
The Panthers squared off against Wisconsin and Loyola in exhibition matches while also playing in tournaments at Marquette and Northwestern.
But, in the end, head coach Susie Johnson was pleased with what the team accomplished.
"I thought the team got better," Johnson said. "We did have some significant injury situation, so other people had to figure out how they were going to impact the team. The people who missed some time were all impact people."
"Melissa really stepped up and played well when given the chance," Johnson said. "Mackenzie hasn't played as much the last couple of seasons but she got to compete in the spring and improved a ton. Overall, it was good because we have a foundation that we can carry over into the fall."
Two spots Johnson kept a close eye on over the last two months were setter and libero. Junior-to-be Samantha Trawitzke will be stepping into a full-time setting role with the graduation of Kellye Zaporski, while a host of players are eyeing the chance to take over for all-time digs leader Lauren Felsing.
"Sam got a lot better this spring She is more confident, she can run the team on her own and she is really in position to have a great season," Johnson said. "We also got to see a lot of competition on defense. We could really see who is going to compete in that position and whose confidence grew during the spring."
Finally, Johnson was pleased with how the competition schedule worked out. The Panthers played Wisconsin in early March then had a few weeks back on the practice court before playing the rest of the spring slate.
"We got to see some things in that Wisconsin match that we could work on in practice and then try to put it back into action during matches," Johnson said. "A lot of people that haven't normally played in matches got to play and played really well. The tournaments at Marquette and Northwestern were strong and we also got to see some conference schools to see what they'll have coming at us."
UWM's full fall schedule is nearly finalized. The Panthers do know they will open the season in Fort Wayne, Ind., at a tournament with NCAA qualifiers IPFW and Saint Louis. Matches with Wisconsin, Marquette and Iowa State also highlight the non-league slate.
Fall practice begins in early August.