Bumpy road for the Loras Volleyball team - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bumpy road for the Loras Volleyball team

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By Lauren Squires

DUBUQUE (KWWL) - The Loras College volleyball team is preparing for its first ever trip to the NCAA tournament. After winning just one conference game last season. It's even more amazing after a teammate died earlier this year.

Loras College sophomore and volleyball player, Audrey Fitzgerald died suddenly last spring from bacterial meningitis. The news shocked the campus and devastated the Loras volleyball team.

This years turn around season gave new meaning to believing. "Let's go! Focus!" yelled Teresa Kehe as she motivated her volleyball team at Tuesday night's practice.

As the Loras College women's volleyball team practices on the hardwood you'd never know that they've gone from worst to first. We finished in 9th place out of 9 teams," said Kehe.

During the fall 2007 season the Duhawks finished with just one conference win. But that was just the beginning of their losses. In the spring of 2008, these women lost something much more important than a match; they lost a teammate. "We just never expected that," said Kehe.

Audrey Fitzgerald died suddenly from bacterial mengingitis. The team was devastated. "Audrey was the contempment team player. She was someone who cared more about the team then herself," said Kehe.

But the team carried on. "She's with us everyday, every practice," said Kehe.

Taking Audrey with them, every bump, set and spike along the way. "We know she's out there and like we're doing it for her. She really loved to be out on the court," said senior captain Betsy Neverman.

Audrey led the team in spirit to the a conference championship and the school's first ever post season berth. "We got where we wanted to go," added senior captain Jenny Dziubla.

And in a game with six players out on the court at a time. This year there's been seven "We definitely feel know and feel her presence," said Coach Kehe. It's helping these Duhawks believe and achieve. "She's a gem and we couldn't have celebrated her life any better than giving her this change to see us shine," said Kehe.

The team wore arm bands with Audrey's initials on them all season and started the Audrey Fitzgerald award, going to a teammate who believes like she did. The Duhawks play in the first round of the NCAA tournament thursday in Minnesota.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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