Injuries and inexperience are two obstacles facing the UNI volleyball team as they prepare for their season opener. The 21st ranked Panthers need to replace four starters from a 14-person roster that consists of nine players who are either redshirt freshman or sophomores. UNI has been hurt to preseason injuries to Middle Hitters Stephanie German and Trista Humple. German recently had knee surgery while Humple has been battling back problems. Northern Iowa coach Bobbi Petersen realizes her young team will make some mistakes and she’s more concerned about how her team plays at the end of the year than now. She says it’s going to be a team that will improve throughout the season, and that’s the goal to improve and be the best at the end of the season.Petersen wonders how the team will react playing another competitive schedule. She says her biggest fear is getting trounced on and going into a shell. She says they have to keep fighting and getting better.Returning All-Conference senior outside hitter Shari Vermeer feels the Panthers need to be patient early in the year. She says they need to learn and react well if they lose.Junior Rachel Tink will be one of the players counted on to lead the Panthers this season. Tink, who is a Missouri Valley Conference pre-season selection, is looking forward to her new role.UNI opens the season September 3rd at the Clemson Invitational.
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