Coming off the bench wasn’t something Heather Boyan was accustomed to, but the Munster grad knows it was the best thing that could have happened to her college volleyball career at Western Kentucky University.
“Playing behind two seniors (last year) was such a great learning experience for me,” said Boyan, a sophomore middle hitter. “It was rough playing behind them, but in the long run it’s been so beneficial. I learned so much.”
Now a staple in the Lady Toppers’ starting lineup, Boyan has propelled the team into the Top 25 poll – including holding strong at No. 20 in the latest NCAA Division-I poll. WKU has won 14 straight games.
The Lady Toppers are 22-3 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Heather has been a major part of our team’s rise into the Top 25 this season,” WKU coach Travis Hudson said. “She came to WKU a little raw in terms of her skill set, but has tremendous athleticism. She has worked relentlessly in the offseason to prepare herself to step in and fill the loss of two senior all-conference middle hitters from our 2011 team.”
Boyan is first on the team in blocks and second in kills. During Saturday’s three-game sweep over Florida Atlantic, Boyan led the charge with 13 kills on 17 attempts with no errors. She hit a career-high .765 for the match.
“Heather is an absolute coach’s dream in the gym,” Hudson said. “She works extremely hard day in and day out. I think her future is very bright here at WKU.”
Manchester United (with locals): Manchester University’s Jon Cafarelli (Marian Catholic/Lansing) topped the men’s individual finishers on the team with a time of 26 minutes, 9 seconds to help the Spartans finish 8th at the 2012 Gibson Family Prenationals in Terre Haute on Oct. 6.
Cafarelli also finished 17th overall at the 2012 Indiana Intercollegiate Championships on Sept. 14 in Terre Haute. Brianna Martinez (Lake Central) was 32nd overall at the same meet. Ashley Kopla (Boone Grove) is also among the top five runners on the women’s squad.
This past Saturday, Cafarelli claimed the men’s individual title in 25:54.1 as the Spartans wrapped up the pre-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships at home with the team title.
Boiler up!: Dana Payonk (Lake Central) continues to do well at Purdue. The sophomore has been in the top five among runners all season.
The Boiler women finished second overall at the 2012 Indiana Intercollegiate Championships with Payonk fourth overall at the race.
Purdue competed at the Adidas Invitational this past weekend – a huge event that featured 49 women’s and 46 men’s teams. Payonk competed in the championship race for the Boilers and improved her time from last year’s meet.
The Times welcomes information about local athletes for inclusion in Region Collegians. E-mail Brian Waddle at email@example.com.