As a freshman on the University of Bridgeport volleyball team, Amy Neussl hoped to get on the floor.
She ended up doing a whole lot more.
Neussl, a 2003 graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School, just wrapped up her first season with the Purple Knights. She was the team's only freshman starter, and was among the team and conference stat leaders in several categories.
But she had to take some initiative to make the squad.
Neussl had just finished helping the Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team post an undefeated record - en route to winning the 2002 Class 4A state title - when she narrowed down her lists of colleges.
She had family living in Massachusetts - close to Bridgeport's Connecticut campus - and she was already attracted to the school's dental hygiene program. So Neussl tossed a videotape in the mail of her playing for the Crimson Bears to see if Bridgeport coach Analia Carcer might be able to find room for her on the team.
A year later, she finished first on the team and second in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference in blocks with 175 -118 solos and 57 block assists, not including the season's last match.
Neussl also finished third on the team in kills with 221 and third on the team in digs with 191 as Bridgeport posted a 14-14 overall record. Neussl was named the NYCAC's rookie of the week after leading her team to a runner-up finish in the Purple Knight Invitational on Sept. 7.
"I don't think Coach expected this," Neussl said. "I just handed her a videotape and told her I was coming. I went for the school. I was glad to get to play and not sit on the bench."
Neussl said the adjustment to college did take some time, even though she seemed to make it quickly. Winning the rookie of the week award the second week of the season helped her confidence.
"It was cool to know I could stick with them and make it work," Neussl said. "It was a good weekend. It was nice to send a message that I could play."
During her first few weeks with the team, Neussl was called "Alaska" by her teammates, though she said the novelty has worn off and they don't call her that as much now.
"I just came in to do my job," Neussl said. "I worked out all summer and showed I was ready to go. I really didn't know what to expect as far as competition. I just fit in as best I could."
Bridgeport is in a rebuilding phase, and this year's 14 victories were the most they've had during Carcer's four-year tenure as head coach. Many of the players are young, so Neussl believes the team can keep improving.
"Definitely the program's improved," Neussl said. "Some of the seniors said they only won one or two games their freshman year. It's definitely a building program. We've got a big group of newcomers."
Neussl's family moved to Kodiak this summer after her father was transferred by the U.S. Coast Guard, and her younger sisters Kelsey and Allison played for Kodiak High School's team this fall. But Neussl still feels connected to Juneau and plans to be back in town over the holiday break.
"I will be back for the (Capital City) Classic," said Neussl, who also played basketball in high school. "I'll see the tournament and how the team's doing."
University of Oregon freshman setter Callan Janowiec (Juneau-Douglas) saw limited time for the Ducks this season, getting in three games and recording one kill.
University of Alaska Fairbanks sophomore Jessica Peters (Klawock) was one of 47 UAF students honored for their academic performance during the "Nanook Walk" on Nov. 5. Peters is an elementary education major.
Whitman College sophomore Karna Williams (Petersburg) was an outside hitter for the Missionaries.
Marquette University sophomore Jodi Jakubek (Ketchikan) competed in the NCAA Division I championships last Monday, leading the Golden Eagles to 22nd place in the team standings. Jakubek was second on her team, finishing 51st in 21 minutes, 3.9 seconds on a 6-kilometer course in Waterloo, Iowa. The top 30 Americans in the race earn All-American status, but Jakubek just missed. A week earlier, Jakubek earned All-Regional honors with a 15th-place finish in the Great Lakes Regional. She was her team's top runner in six meets this season.
Seattle University sophomore Meghan Salveson and freshman Phoebe Rohrbacher (both Juneau-Douglas) competed for the Redhawks as the women's team took 10th place out of 24 teams during the NCAA Division II West Region Cross Country Championships on Nov. 8 in Chino, Calif. Salveson finished 90th in 25:24.0 on the 6-kilometer course, while Rohrbacher was 102nd in 25:49.6. Salveson also made the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Academic Team with a 3.83 GPA in her undeclared major.
Central Washington University sophomore Brandy Anderson (Juneau-Douglas graduate, formerly known as Brandy Weston) took 50th place in the NCAA Division II West Region Cross Country Championships on Nov. 8 in Chino, Calif. Anderson posted a time of 24:16.5 on the 6-kilometer course to help the Wildcats finish in sixth place in the team standings.
Pacific Lutheran University senior Breea Mearig (Juneau-Douglas graduate, formerly known as Breea DeSloover) finished 16th overall in the NCAA Division III West Regional on Nov. 15 in Estacada, Ore. Mearig covered the 6-kilometer course in 23:09.9 and was the Lutes' top runner. Freshman Beth Loesch (Petersburg) also ran for PLU in the fall, but didn't make the team that went to regionals.
Gonzaga University freshman Gabe Hayden (Juneau-Douglas) competed for the Bulldogs this season.
Adams State College graduate Carl Blackhurst (Haines) is a graduate assistant coach for the Grizzlies, who won the NCAA Division II men's and women's national championships on Nov. 22.
St. Benedict College freshman Molly Krehlik (Juneau-Douglas) was one of the Blazers' top runners early in the season, but didn't appear in results later in the year.
University of Alaska Anchorage freshman Anjuli Haydu (Craig) was on the Seawolves' roster this season, competing in early meets in Alaska but not making the travel team.
Northwest College sophomore Elisa Bolling (Ketchikan) appeared on the Eagles' roster early in the season, but was not listed on the school's Web site later in the year as the Eagles took second in the NAIA National Championships.
Sisters Hannah and Liza Slotnick (both Juneau-Douglas) played against each other twice this season. Hannah was a senior midfielder-defender for Mary Washington College, while Liza was a freshman midfielder for St. Mary's College. Both schools play in the Washington, D.C., area-based Capital Athletic Conference. Hannah helped her team reach the NCAA Division III playoffs and had an assist in the Eagles' 2-1 first-round victory over Cabrini College. Mary Washington reached the third round before it was eliminated by the College of New Jersey, 5-1.
Flagler College senior defender Jeremy Gleason (Juneau-Douglas) helped the Saints compile a 12-5-2 overall record, 7-3-2 in the Florida Sun Conference.
University of Charlotte sophomore midfielder-forward Robert Lossett (Juneau-Douglas) saw action in seven games off the bench for the 49ers this season.
Gonzaga University junior midfielder Justin Dorn (Juneau-Douglas) saw action in one game for the Bulldogs this season. He was one of 124 Gonzaga student-athletes named to the West Coast Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll for the 2002-03 academic year, earning bronze honors for a 3.17 GPA in exercise science.
University of California-Santa Cruz sophomore Erin Flynn (Juneau-Douglas) was a defender-midifielder for the Banana Slugs.
The Juneau Empire's College Corner feature runs about once a month during the school year and is compiled by sports editor Charles Bingham from school Web sites and tips from readers, coaches and parents. If you know of any other college athlete from Southeast Alaska who should be included in the feature, please let us know. You can fax information to 586-3028 (attention Sports), or you can e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org (please do not send text attachments).
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