Belleville West High School graduate Samantha Voegtle wasn't expecting to make a big impact as a freshman playing for Fontbonne College.
But, after being chosen as the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's Newcomer of the Year in women's basketball, Voegtle is excited about her future with the Griffins.
"It really makes me pumped up," Voegtle said. "I had no idea I was going to be able to come in and do that as a freshman, so it makes me want to work hard and see what else I can accomplish while I am here."
The 5-foot-11 Voegtle was thrust into a prominent role for the Griffins after 6-foot junior Chelsey Freymuth tore her ACL right before the start of the 2012-13 season.
Voegtle thought she would be spelling Freymuth a few minutes each game this season. Instead, she suddenly found herself taking over Freymuth's spot in the starting lineup.
"It was intimidating for sure, but going back to high school, me and another girl got thrown in to play against older girls the whole time," Voegtle said. "I didn't think about it that much. It just felt like another game to me. It wasn't so bad."
The Griffins had three other freshman logging a lot of court time for them this season.
"There were a lot of freshmen getting a lot of playing time, so it didn't feel too weird to me," Voegtle said.
Voegtle ended up leading the Griffins in scoring and rebounding. She averaged 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in earning second-team All-SLIAC recognition.
"That (Freymuth's injury) created a void, and Samantha jumped right in there and took that spot and never looked back," Fontbonne coach Matt Wickenhauser said. "She did a great job for us."
Wickenhauser said he wasn't surprised by Voegtle's emergence this season.
"I am really not because I saw what kind of player she was at the high-school level," Wickenhauser said. "When I recruited her, I thought she was a little bit of a diamond in the rough. I saw a huge upside. I recruited her very hard and I was fortunate to get her."
Voegtle led the Maroons in scoring with an average of 10.3 points per game as a senior. She also averaged 5.7 rebounds per game and blocked 36 shots.
Voegtle said the transition from high school to college was tough, especially consistently going against players who were taller than her.
"It was kind of frustrating because when I was in high school at Belleville West I was always the tallest one," Voegtle said. "Then coming here as freshman, there were older girls who were much taller than me. It was really hard for me to adjust to that.
"It wasn't necessarily hard to guard them, but it was hard for me on offense because I was getting way better defense from these tall girls. That was the hardest thing, I think."
Wickenhauser said Voegtle's strength enables her to hold her own against taller players.
"She is a strong girl," Wickenhauser said. "She plays very physical in the post defensively, and then on offense, she is tough to move off the block. She can catch and go up strong to the hoop. She also has good range.
"She has a nice jump shot from 8 to 10 feet out from the basket. She's multi-faceted offense and she does a real good job defending the post because she is so strong."
Voegtle ran into a couple of other West graduates playing in the SLIAC.
Greenville College's Iesha Adams and Webster University's Airyn Miller were both seniors when Voegtle was a freshman with the Maroons.
"I remember her giving me advice and stuff like that," Voegtle said of Adams, who earned honorable mention All-SLIAC honors after averaging 11.1 points, 5.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game for the Panthers. "I remember playing with her some practices. Whenever we played Greenville, I got to talk to her a little bit. It's cool knowing somebody that you are playing against."
Miller averaged four points and 3.2 rebounds, while dishing out 30 assists for the Gorlocks.
Fontbonne ended its season with a 9-16 record, including an 8-8 mark in the SLIAC.
The Griffins tied for fifth in the conference, and only the top four teams get invited to its postseason conference tournament.
With Freymuth returning next season, Wickenhauser is looking forward to the problem of having two post players.
"We'll find a way to make it work," Wickenhauser.
Voegtle, the daughter of Michelle and Dan Voegtle of Millstadt, is majoring in business administration and management with the goal of working in human resources.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.