Alumni happy to survive match with current players

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This year's Redhawks team wins 30-21, 30-21, 30-18 in tuneup for Friday's opener.

The players on the Southeast Missouri State alumni volleyball team that faced the current Redhawks squad Saturday morning in an exhibition match at Houck Field House agreed on one thing.

"We're still out of shape," said Amy (Henken) Sheehan, who played at Southeast in 1998 and 1999 and ranks fourth in career assists in the program's Division I history.

Rachelle Knapp, who played from 1997 through 2000, seconded that notion. "We're definitely out of shape," she said.

Chimed in a laughing Jackie (Derwort) Haines, who played from 1996 through 1999 and ranks in the top 10 on several of the program's Division I lists, "We're just excited if we don't have to get wheeled off the floor."

But make no mistake about it -- the 11 former Southeast players enjoyed themselves at the program's second annual alumni match, even though the current Redhawks had a relatively easy time in winning 30-21, 30-21, 30-18 in front of about 100 fans.

"It's a lot of fun to come back and see the girls you haven't seen for a while," said Sheehan, who lives in the St. Louis area. "I think this is a great thing they've done. Last year when I heard about it, I said I have to be here."

Sheehan was one of six ex-Southeast players who participated in the alumni match for the second straight year. Haines was another.

"I think it's a neat thing for the program," said Haines, who still lives in the area. "It's good for us former players and I think it's good for the current team."

Renata Nowacki, Southeast's second-year head coach, began the alumni match in 2005 and plans to have it every year.

"They're legends," Nowacki said of the alumni squad. "Several of them have their names on our [record] board. Our players have wondered who they are and this way they get to meet them."

Virtually all of the alumni players appear in the school's record book on various top-10 lists and many of them earned all-Ohio Valley Conference honors.

Also participating Saturday were Lea Beckemeyer, Emily Scannell, Suzanne Gundlach, Sarah Frost, Jessica (Houpt) Hills, Ashley Smith, Jill Miller and Lauren Scannell.

On Southeast's all-time Division I lists, Beckemeyer ranks third in career kills, Emily Scannell is second in career assists and second in career aces, and her sister Lauren Scannell is second in single-season digs.

Beckemeyer, Emily Scannell, Gundlach and Smith also competed in last year's match. The alumni dropped the 2005 contest in three games as well.

Knapp traveled the furthest for Saturday's contest, coming from Los Angeles.

"I haven't seen a lot of the girls in a while," she said. "It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I was here."

Returning all-conference performer Jessica Koeper, a senior from Jackson High School, led the current Redhawks with 14 kills Saturday. Brenna Schlader, another returning starter, added 11 kills.

The Redhawks open their season Friday at Mississippi's tournament.

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