Loras College head coach Jenna Ness and staff were named the American Rivers Conference volleyball’s coaching staff of the year on Thursday with the release of league honors.
In her seventh season at the helm of the Loras program, Ness and assistants Haley Bergan, Matthew Engum, Liz Jendra and Paige Griffith led the Duhawks to a runner-up finish in the A-R-C regular season standings, the team’s best finish since 2015. The Duhawks finished with a 6-2 mark in conference and a 19-8 overall record.
In 31 conference sets, Loras ranked third in opponent hitting percentage (.137), assists per set (11.68), opponent assists per set (11.00), and opponent kills per set (11.61). Loras’ coaching staff of the year honor is the second under the direction of Ness (2015) and fifth in program history (1990, 2002, 2008). Three of the assistants — Bergan, Jendra and Griffith — played for Ness.
Loras placed four players on this year’s first team, led by back-to-back honoree Krystal Tranel. The second-year libero and Dubuque Wahlert standout ranked second in the league in digs per set (6.16) and fifth in service aces per set (.45). Fellow Wahlert alum Kelly Boge, Kayla Kinney and Jackie Alberto also earned first-team nods for the Duhawks.
Boge owned the conference’s 11th best hitting percentage (.215) and totaled 17 blocks in 31 sets. As an outside hitter, Kinney averaged 2.87 kills per set to rank 12th in the league standings. Alberto finished with a .346 hitting percentage in 31 conference sets to rank second in the conference.
The University of Dubuque placed two players on the 15-member all-conference team in senior outside hitter and Stockton, Ill., native Kara Wright, along with freshman outside hitter Grace Hintze.
Wartburg junior and Dyersville Beckman grad Kylie Bildstein also made the first team, while honorable mention went to Loras senior and Wahlert grad Jessalyn Roling and Coe junior and Dubuque Hempstead alum Morgan Kluesner.
Area talents land on all-WIAC team — UW-Platteville sophomore outside hitter Olivia Kudronowicz was named to the first team on the all-WIAC squad.
Two other area prep standouts also received first-team honors in UW-La Crosse sophomore outside hitter Emma Lawrence (Benton prep) and UW-Whitewater senior middle blocker Ashton Doll (Lancaster).
Loras 51, Buena Vista 6 — At Loras: Zach Licht (133 pounds), Clint Lembeck (141), Brandon Murray (157), Jacob Krakow (174), Shane Liegel (184) and Wyatt Wriedt (285) all won by fall as the top-ranked Duhawks (1-0, 1-0 American Rivers Conference) rolled in their season opener.