CEDAR FALLS — A year ago, Doug Humphrey was chomping at the bit to see what his University of Northern Iowa women’s swimming and diving team could accomplish.
He wasn’t disappointed as the Panthers piled up school records on the way to their best-ever performance at the Missouri Valley Conference championships (third place).
Now it’s a new season, and UNI is raising its expectations once again.
“We’re excited about what we have in store,” Humphrey said Monday during UNI’s weekly coaches’ luncheon.
The Panthers dive into their first competition of the season Saturday at the Missouri State Invitational where each team can take no more than nine swimmers or enter more than two in any event.
“Physically we’re not in the best race shape with the way we’re training, but they’ll be able to get out there and compete and see where we stack up with the rest of the conference,” noted Humphrey.
Humphrey said his team, which was picked third in the preseason poll, remains hungry.
“We’re coming off such a great year ... we didn’t rest on that,” he said. “We kind of spent the offseason making ourselves better, and I really feel the strength of this team is our depth. This is year five for me, and we’ve spent the last four seasons trying to recruit and build this team up to where we’re deep in pretty much every event.”
Among the established veterans returning are Veronica Hermann, Stephanie Jackson, Molly Lembezeder, Hannah Brummel, Crystal Florman, Aftin Phyfe Autumn Roepsch, Madison Rinaldi, Olivia Knowles, Jill Georgen, Alyssa Deuso and Rachel Siebenaller.
VOLLEYBALL: Panther libero Kendyl Sorge was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week Monday. Sorge, a sophomore from Janesville, had back-to-back 29-dig matches over the weekend, averaging 6.44 digs per set. She ranks second in the MVC in digs per set this season at 5.27.
CROSS COUNTRY: UNI’s women’s cross country team put together another strong performance at Notre Dame Friday, posting a fifth-place finish on a wet, sloppy course. Ashley Norem, Kelsey Kirchoff and Brett Correy led the way with top 30 individual finishes.
The Panthers were 14th in the men’s race, led by Bailey Wetherell’s 42nd-place showing.
“We’re excited where both teams are at,” said coach Dave Paulsen, whose teams next run at the Oct. 14 Bradley Classic.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: UNI brought out the best in Evansville Sunday as the defending conference champions staggered the Panthers with three goals in the first 20 minutes and posted a 3-1 victory to end UNI’s four-game winning streak.
“They kind of showed us why they were conference champions,” head coach Chris Logan noted. “They played for a full game, and we played for 17 minutes.
“We have to put a full 90 minutes together.”
UNI (7-5-1 overall, 1-1 Missouri Valley) plays Saturday at noon at Indiana State.