Aug. 25, 2004
Opposites Strive for Same Goal On Volleyball Court
by Simit Shah
There is absolutely no tougher way to start a season. In their opener Friday night, the Georgia Tech volleyball team faces top-ranked Southern Cal, which has won the last two NCAA titles during the course of their 47-match winning streak.
It will take a Herculean effort to topple the Women of Troy, but Bond Shymansky is armed with his all-American “dynamic duo” of Lynnette Moster and Lauren Sauer in the quest to conquer USC.
“I call them the dynamic duo on the outside,” the third-year head coach explained. “I really believe there is not a better combination of outside hitters in the country right now than those two.”
While Moster and Sauer comprise the cornerstones of the 12th-ranked Lady Jackets, there’s little that the two seniors share in common. Sauer is a 6-foot-4 power player, while Moster relies on finesse at 5-foot-10. Sauer is a fiery, commanding presence on the court, while Moster quietly leads by example. Sauer grew up in the relatively big cities of Huntsville, Ala., and Columbia, S.C., while Moster was raised on an Indiana farm. “It’s really a great lesson for our other players,” Shymansky said. “Here are two all-Americans that go about their business in completely different ways, but they are both extremely successful.”
In her three seasons at Georgia Tech, Moster has established herself among the program’s top performers. She’s a two-time all-American, the only one in ACC history, and has her name is peppered throughout the Tech record books.
“Lynnette is a rock,” Sauer said. “That girl can play volleyball. She knows the game. She knows everything technically. She’s perfected every shot and angle. She brings that to every practice and every match. She’s not the most vocal person, but you know she’ll be there every single day and perform.”
Meanwhile, Sauer began her collegiate career as the ACC’s Rookie of the Year in 2001 and has played in every single match over the past three years. She is also tallest player to ever suit up for the Lady Jackets.
“She has the ability to intimidate her opponents and has a presence at the net unlike any player I’ve ever seen,” stated Shymansky. They might be as different as night and day, but they fittingly finished last season tied for the team lead in kills with 541. The duo also share a singular focus for their final season–surpassing the success of last year’s record-setting squad.
In Shymansky’s second season as head coach, the Lady Jackets won a school record 34 games en route to advancing to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. They finished the season ranked eighth in the nation, setting numerous records and earning plenty of team and individual accolades. Expectations are high for this season, given the team’s lofty ranking. They have also been tabbed the preseason pick to win the ACC, and Sauer, Moster and Maria Aston were named to the preseason all-ACC team.
“Preseason ranking is a lot about what happened over the spring and how you finished last year,” noted Moster. “It’s not about how your team can actually play. Being picked first in the conference doesn’t mean anything. It’s preseason talk. We have to prove who we are.” Topping last year’s performance will be a tall order, but with six starters and four other letterwinners returning, there’s plenty of experience.
“Most of us have played together two, three or four years,” Sauer said. “A big factor in success is teamwork, and I think most of the chemistry is already there.”
That chemistry will face the ultimate test against USC Friday, as the Lady Jackets travel to Fort Collins, Colo. to participate in the NACWAA Classic, a four-team tournament that also includes fifth-ranked Minnesota and 11th-ranked Colorado State.
“This is like taking the final at the beginning of the semester,” Shymansky said. “It’s really fun for us. Our team has a really healthy attitude towards it right now. We’ve really enjoyed being the giant-killers, and we’ve a great giant to kill in USC, so we’re going to give it our best shot.”
“It’s kind of overwhelming to think that we’re playing some of the top teams in the nation our first weekend,” Moster added. “It’s an honor to be able to play there. We’re just going to go out and have fun. We’re the underdog, and we play so well when we’re the underdog. There’s nothing for us to lose.”