Marquette Women’s Volleyball: Carlson poised for historic season

Junior middle hitter Dani Carlson was named All-American honorable mention last year and will become a big contributor to the Golden Eagle front line next season. Tribune File Photo.

The natural order of college athletics is that players graduate and new players are expected to fill the void. That will be the case next season for the Marquette volleyball team. The Golden Eagles are losing almost 50 percent of their scoring with the graduation of Ashley Beyer and Ciara Jones.

However, Bond Shymansky’s team has an honorable mention All-American waiting to take her game to the next level. Junior middle hitter Danielle Carlson is one of only eight women in program history to be named an All-American.

Carlson led the Big East in hitting percentage last season and could fight for conference player of the year next season. The All-Big East First Team selection is one of six returning players from last year’s First Team. Carlson greatly benefited from the play of Beyer and Jones but could see a lot of attention with an inexperienced outside hitter next season.

“There’s another level that she’s going to need to go,” Shymansky said. “There is another level of focus and intensity that’s going to come at her by opponents.”

Carlson saw a lot of attention toward the end of last season but Shymansky and his staff saw her adjust well to new defensive schemes. Carlson had one of her best games in the NCAA Tournament against eventual runner-up Illinois when she posted 11 kills with only one attack error.

Carlson is eager to be the No. 1 option in Shymanky’s up-tempo offense.

“I know that it’s my job to get kills when the outside isn’t getting kills,” Carlson said. “It’s exciting to know that my team is depending on me and that I can execute with the opportunities that I have.”

Carlson is saying all the right things and is beginning to take on the role of team leader. The Marshfield, Wis., native was named as a team captain along with sophomore libero Julie Jeziorowski.

“Being a captain, there is self expectations and the weight of holding your teammates accountable for their performance,” Shymansky said. “It takes a lot out of a person mentally and emotionally. Dani’s smart and mature enough to carry that mantle well for us.”

Carlson will be asked to help out the two players asked to fill the hole left by Beyer and Jones, freshman Lindsey Gosh and sophomore Casey Read.

“She has taken on a big role as a leader,” junior middle hitter Kelsey Mattai said. “She uses her experiences that she’s had thus far and is leading by example.”

Carlson has begun to set lofty goals for herself. Two weeks ago she talked to Shymansky about pursuing a professional career when her playing days at Marquette are finished. Being fluent in Spanish, Carlson will have a plethora of opportunities to play in a Spanish-speaking country.

Marquette volleyball has had three players play overseas over the last two seasons. Shymansky has coached eight student-athletes who have gone on to play professionally in his 10 seasons as a head coach.

Losing two All-American athletes would cause some teams to take a step backward, but Carlson could put together a season that would rival any in Marquette volleyball history.