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‘Killers’ on the court

The Master’s volleyball player has sights on sister’s kill mark

Posted: August 19, 2008 9:08 p.m.
Updated: October 21, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Rachel Roleder is a first team All-American at The Master's College. Roleder and Leslie Windham,  start their season on Friday at Azusa Pacific. Rachel Roleder is a first team All-American at The Master's College. Roleder and Leslie Windham,  start their season on Friday at Azusa Pacific.
Rachel Roleder is a first team All-American at The Master's College. Roleder and Leslie Windham,  start their season on Friday at Azusa Pacific.

Rachel Roleder is fourth on the Masters College all-time career kills list, and sometime in mid-September the senior likely be second on in that category.

To make things more interesting, she has her older sister and former teammate in her crosshairs.

Roleder, an outside hitter on the Mustangs volleyball team, has 1,440 kills in a three-year starting career.

She is five quick kills away from surpassing Kim Gibson (1996-99) for third. In addition, she is 142 away from passing sister Amanda Roleder, who played from 2004-07.

The older sibling is now an assistant coach with Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. A younger sister, Kimmee, is a sophomore starting outside hitter with the University of Southern California, which finished third in last season's NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament.

"I feel like I had an advantage," Rachel Roleder said. "She (Amanda) sat on the bench in her freshman year and I didn't. She even told me, ‘You have an advantage.' "

If Roleder averages at least 15 kills per match, she would be on pace to pass her sister for second all-time on Sept. 13, in the home opener at Bross Gymnasium against Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) opponent Azusa Pacific.

She could pass her sooner, however, in a tournament at Scotts Valley College, six miles north of Santa Cruz.

"You know, it wouldn't be that big of a deal," Roleder said. "I played more outside, so I got more hits than she did. She's more athletic, I got the height and my mother's bad knees."

Amanda Roleder, who visits back home once a month, said she will try to watch her sister pass her, if possible. Their parents, Dan and Carol, have been in the stands watching several of Rachel and Amanda's matches.

"I definitely was planning on flying out to see it," Amanda Roleder said. "Anything she does, I'm amazed at it. I knew she was going to (pass me)."

The sisters also played for one season with Pasadena High School.

"I think Rachel more a silent leader," Amanda Roleder said. "She's more of a play-ender. When the team is struggling, she steps up when they need her."

Even with the 6-foot Rachel doing the heavy hitting on the outside and her sister providing the blocking and hitting in the middle, Master's College finished 5-15 in the GSAC, regarded as the toughest in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Fresno Pacific, who won the conference, won the national tournament. The last time Master's College went to the NAIA tournament was in 2004, the season before Rachel arrived and when Amanda came off of the bench.

This season, Roleder and her teammates are expecting to finish with a better season.

"The top four in our conference creamed everyone in the national tournament," Roleder said. "We'd play teams from the East Coast with like, a 20-5 record, and we'd beat them."

Amanda would get in teammates' faces, her sister included.

"Amanda's a lot more competitive," Roleder said. "She's a lot more about getting the job done. She pushed me a lot by yelling at me. I am more a leader by example."

Both women are also on the all-time total attacks list, which is the number of attempts at spiking a ball for kills. Amanda is second on the career list with 4,272, while Rachel is fourth with 3,210.

The sisters were the two main hitting weapons on the team.

"I think it's because Amanda and I were it in terms of hitting options," Roleder said. "We'd have 60 (attempts) each, where usually most players would have 20 to 25. This year, we're more spread out."

The two sisters were both named to the National Christian College Athletic Association first-team All-Ameica team.

"That was really cool," Roleder said. "It was great to recognize Amanda for her hard work. To get the rewards last year was awesome."

Joining Roleder as returners are seniors Tiffany Kaiser and Jill DeVries and sophomore libero Leslie Windham, a National Christian College Athletic Association second-team All-American.

"We should have a pretty good defensive team," Windham said. "The number one libero in our conference graduated. That's good, because I want to be the Libero of the Year."

There are 14 freshmen, four starters, including outside hitter Jenna Kapuscinski and setter Emily Gray. Eight players are 5-foot-10 or taller.

"We have more height than we've ever had since I've been here," fourth-year head coach Kristine Butler said. "We have the deepest bench we've had. We're working our way up."

Butler is also setting reaching the postseason as a team goal.

"We're already better than we were at the end of last season," Butler said. "Experience may play a factor."
Butler said Roleder will be a major player this season.

"Since she's been on the team, she's one of our best all-around players," Butler said. "She's been great with the rest of our players as a leader. She's always stepped into that role."


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