New beginning for Tech Volleyball

Courtesy of MTU Athletics

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Change will be the name of the game for the 2012 Michigan
Tech volleyball team.

The changes start at the top with new head coach Matt Jennings. The Chicago
native joins the Huskies after spending the previous three seasons as an
assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Div. I Pittsburgh of the Big
East Conference. He worked as an assistant coach at both DePaul and Eastern
Kentucky, and served as the head men’s volleyball coach at NAIA St. Ambrose
for four seasons. While in Pittsburgh, Jennings also served as head coach
of the premier teams at Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Association for three

Assisting Jennings will be assistant coach Nicasio Paquiz Jr. who also has
Div. I coaching experience working at Green Bay and with Jennings at
DePaul. Paquiz comes to Houghton from 1st Alliance Volleyball Club on
Chicago’s south-side.

The team returns a trio of setters with game experience in senior Skylar
Paffenroth, junior Madeline Haben and sophomore Ciara Sebelius. Paffenroth
and Sebelius shared the setting duties last year each tallying over 350
assists. Haben, who redshirted last season, handled the bulk of the setting
duties in 2010 finishing with 671 assists. Haben, a captain along with
Paffenroth and Kero, is slated to lead the Husky offensive this season as
the starting setter.

Junior co-captain Jordanna Kero returns at outside hitter after leading the
team in kills. The Hancock, Mich., native added 109 digs and 25 blocks to
go along with her 167 kills.

Joining Kero in the front row are sophomores Shelby Jones, Kienna Sharp,
and Andria Nyenhuis. The trio combined for 307 kills and 79 blocks.
Nyenhuis, from Gladstone, Mich., ranked second on the team in service aces
(22) and tied for the team-lead with 36 blocks.  Sharp will provide depth
at the front row after recording 72 kills and 31 blocks second most on the
team last season.

The team welcomes three freshmen to the front row, Janelle Rupkalvis,
Sylvie Rokosh and Aubrey Havlichek. Rupkalvis joined the team during the
2012 spring semester after a standout career at Andover, Minn., and
Havlichek hales from Thornton, Colo. Rokosh, who hails from Calgary,
Alberta, will be the tallest player on the team at 6-2.  Havlichek and
Rokosh should provide instant productivity to the Huskies net game on the
right side and in the middle.

Tessa Mauer (Littleton, Colo.) saw extensive time in the line-up at both
libero and defensive specialist. Mauer led the team in both digs (231) and
service aces (30). The Huskies’ utility player will be Abby DeWitt, who
will add balance to the back-court as well as the left and right side

A pair of freshmen will add talent and depth in the back row. Jacqueline
Aird joins the Huskies after a stellar career at Mother McAuley High School
in Chicago and an All-American caliber club experience at 1st Alliance, one
of the premier programs in the U.S. Aird is slated to start at libero at
the outset. Sarah Rasmussen comes to Tech via Chanhassen, Minn. having been
part of successful programs in high school and with M1, a regional
powerhouse club team.

“We’ve been working hard since March to set the tone for the rebirth of our
program,” said Jennings. “I’m optimistic that we’re on the right path given
the dedication and trust put forth by this group. I am very proud of the
way the team has come together so far. We have a lot of work to do to get
where we all want to be, but I have no doubt that coach Paquiz and I have
the right group to get this started.”

The Huskies will open the season Aug. 31 at the Indiana (Pa.) Tournament.
The team will make its home debut Sept. 29 against Wayne State.