April 15, 2013
December 12, 2012
Well the 2012 season came to a close and it was a hard fought season with this overall young group of players. We battled in nearly every match this season and considered ourselves to be in a vast majority of the matches that in years past we would not have been. Going to 5 sets with Morningside and 4 with Dordt late in the season are tell-tale signs of our progression as a team and what we anticipate for the upcoming seasons. I am very proud of this group of young ladies and their resiliency to continue to come in and work hard every day. It will pay off for them as we approach the new year.
We will be adding some more posts in the coming weeks that will include our current signings for the 2013 rosters, an update or two on the progress for the spring workouts and practices, and then a summer send off edition.
Thank you to everyone that has continually read our blog, as well as followed us on Facebook (DWUVB) and Twitter (@DWUVB). We will continually send out updates and fun notes.
Merry Christmas and Happy new year to everyone.
- Coach V
October 9, 2012
The goal was to get at least 2 or 3 wins over during the week. We started with Mount Marty on Tuesday and hosting them at the Corn Palace. It seems at least every other year Mount Marty turns out to be a thorn in our side. This just happened to be one of those years. Not to take anything away from them, they played hard and relatively mistake free volleyball to beat us in 3 sets. It was a very frustrating experience for our team as they finally learned that their careless attacking and serving errors truly matter against every opponent. We committed a total 50 errors in the 3 set match. Yes, we gave them the total of 2 sets worth of points on mistakes that we could mostly control the result. It felt as if we hit the bottom as we sat in the locker room searching for any type of positive to speak of. The only that came up was that we got to play another match the next day to get this terrible loss out of our minds.
We came in the next day with a renewed focus and some lineup changes. Which I don't suggest all of the time without a practice session. However, we felt a little desperate at the time for a change. Something clicked for the team relatively all night we were a dominate offensive team that just racked up kill after kill. We still committed a few too many attacking errors but we countered those errors with kills in this match rather than playable attacks like in other matches. It was a great match as we came out with a five set win at Dakota State. You can see some highlights from this match at the following web link http://www.hudl.com/team/51690/highlights/12486819.
We then went on the road for the weekend to North Dakota to play Jamestown and Valley City. Jamestown is a team receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 vote and Valley City is a team we have nearly always gone to 4 or 5 sets with and all of the hotly contested. Our Jamestown match was played at a low error rate for us which was very nice to see. We forced Jamestown to be the team to beat us and not ourselves. We just couldn't earn enough kills or aces consistently enough to push the match to 4 sets. We played well and even lead a few times in each set but once we got to that 16 to 17 point area Jamestown turned it on and we fizzled away. We competed though and I believed that we were on the verge of playing better offensively and forcing teams to beat us rather than us giving them so many points.
Our match against Valley City was pretty much how we all expected it to go; every set with close scores and trading the lead and ties in every set. We split the first 2 sets to go into the 1-1 and we our game win was relatively dominate albeit the score may not show it. We gave up a run at the end to make it closer than what it was. And then the error bug crept up on us again as we felt pressure to be more aggressive offensively because of how well VCSU was playing defensively. The last 2 sets were still close but we in each set we had 2 runs of points where we gave them 4 errors in row to put a little cushion between us to finish off the match.
We learned a lot as a team and some of our players rediscovered their roles to help us compete and be a more consistent team. Our energy level and emotional play was higher and we now know going into the next few weeks we will need to play at the highest level to achieve our goals.
Talk to all of you soon.
September 24, 2012
We had a full week off until our next match. This time it was against reigning GPAC champion Morningside. We felt that we were unbelievably prepared for this match. We had to adjust our lineup with Sam being out for a few weeks due to her injury. We inserted Sarah Kruse, a freshman from IA, into the lineup and thought that we had something special with how we knew the match would go with their lineup. Unfortunately our other starting junior, Rachel Tinklenberg, suffered a head injury while on campus during the day and was not 100% for the match. Only after the match did we find out how serious the injury would be. Rachel did play and played very well for most of the match. As a team we played extremely well taking a set from Morningside to have the match tied at 1-1 going into the break. After dropping the 3rd we came back out in the 4th with a readjustment to our starting rotations and it paid off. We controlled most of the 4th set had a couple of set points to force the 5th. However, that lack of killer instinct crept up on us again and we just couldn't put the 1 ball away we needed to seal the game. I was very proud of the team as we have never played so well against Morningside and I do believe the next match we play them we will win or it will go to 5.
We had to refocus again as we found out Rachel's injury would keep her out for the next few weeks. We are now facing a part of the schedule with about 5 very winnable matches out of 7. However, we have to go through it without our 2 most veteran and leading attacking players. This is the time of the year that we have to show some resiliency and have a lot of freshmen and sophomores raise their level play immediately. Small mistakes are now big ones for us.
We approached the weekend without Sam and Rachel still in a very positive manner. Knowing that our opponent, Concordia Univ., was a team struggling like us to make other teams beat them. I was so confident in our players and the lineup we chose to use for the weekend that at not one point in time did I think that we could even go to 5 with them. We found out that we are great team in the middle of matches (like top 35 in the nation good) but at the start of a match and the end to close it out we play with some fear to make the big play. We were up 2 sets to 1 and played well for 2/3 of the 4th set. We just couldn't close out the match as we became a little tentative on offense and gave away too many easy chances for Concordia to make a run. The 5th set did not start off favorably as we did not receive serve well enough to stay in system. We made a small push but it was not enough to get over the early deficit we gave ourselves. This was still an unbelievable performance by our team that played with mainly Freshmen and Sophomores on the court a majority of the match. We have heart as a team but are still looking for that clutch performance by any of our hitters.
We have a short turn around as we look into next week and play Mt. Marty on Tuesday and Dakota State on Wednesday then travel to North Dakota for matches against Jamestown and Valley City. We have to find some kind of killer instinct as I do believe that we will put ourselves in position to win each of these matches. Can we finish the job each time is the question.
So the title isn't only about our matches. We had some bus issues on our way to Morningside that delayed the start of the matches by an hour and half. We then were supposed leave on Friday night to head down to Nebraska for our match with Concordia on Saturday. As we were waiting outside for the bus we received the call the bus was not going to be able to make the trip. We then had to adjust our departure to Saturday morning at 6am. Just not a great week for us with bus travel.
Keep checking our FaceBook and Twitter (@DWUVB) pages for more information. We also have a YouTube page with funny videos of our team. Have a great week.
- Coach V
September 17, 2012
We went 1-3 at our tournament on Sept. 7-8, which was not the plan at all. We had some big troubles with giving away points early in sets and putting ourselves in too big of a hole to come out of late. The awareness of the value of every point was not with us that weekend.
We opened up GPAC play by hosting Dordt College on Wednesday Sept. 12. Dordt has always been a very high quality team in the conference and this year is no difference. They were a very solid blocking team and had an MH that had a great match at the net. We added to it with a lot of reception errors which was not the norm for how our season had been going to that point. We had been very solid as a serve receive team most of the season. We finished the match playing well and forcing Dordt into more mistakes and we began to put more balls away but fell short in the end. It was also not a great ending as junior Sam Sandau injured her ankle in one of the last 3 points of the match. She was playing a very solid match and contributing so much to our team.
We now have a week off until we play Morningside next Wednesday. We have to look at a new lineup and come up with some ways to earn points aggressively. It is a big week for us with some winnable matches.
Keep checking our facebook page and our Twitter (@DWUVB) page for quick bits of information. We also have a YouTube page DWUVolleyball. There you can find funny videos from our team normally.
I'll talk to you next week.
- Coach V
September 6, 2012
For those following us through the website (http://www.dwuathletics.com/womens-athletics/volleyball/) or our Facebook page or twitter feed (@DWUVB) have seen some solid set scores but not the match scores every team hopes for in a result. We have played 2 weekend tournaments so far and came out 1-3 in each of those. The goal was to go 2-2 but fell short in the 1 match in each tournament we thought we could get (Valley City on 8/25 lost in 5 and Mayville on 9/1 lost in 4). Unfortunately a match we had strong feelings about that we would win was cancelled on 9/3 against Trinity Bible College; we hope to reschedule that match.
We hosted the DWU/Coca-Cola Classic last weekend for the Labor Day weekend. It was a great success although our record didn't show the quality of play we did have. Dani Bird (OH, Omaha, NE) was named to the all-tournament team for her solid attacking and blocking performance all weekend.
This upcoming weekend we host our annual Corn Palace Classic (match schedule HERE). There is no doubt in my mind that we can leave the weekend with a 4-0 record to help build confidence as we head into conference play next week. You can see all of the matches played streaming live, http://www.justin.tv/cornpalace.
We will have updates all weekend through our Dakota Wesleyan Volleyball Facebook and twitter (@DWUVB) accounts as well as our DWU Athletics pages (@dwusports).
Talk to you again next week.
- Coach V
August 23, 2012
Some key players to watch will be Dani Bird (So., OH from Omaha, NE), Rachel Tinklenberg (Jr., MH from Pipestone, MN), Elizabeth Mahsem (Fr., MH from MacFarland, WI), Sammy Fluck (FR., OH from Becker, MN) and Maggie Stehly (Fr., Libero from Sioux Falls, SD)
There have been some very good moments for every player in our program and the selection of a travel roster for this weekend was very difficult. We will have a predominantly young lineup out on the floor for the entire season so I am sure we'll have some up and down rhythms to the season. All in all we are excited about what the future brings and are positive that we have more successes than failures this year.
We'll have another update next week with some information about the matches from this upcoming weekend. We wish all of you reading this the best of luck this weekend if you are playing as well. Take care and have a great day.
- Coach V
August 7, 2012
You can get more information about each player from their press releases HERE.
First let me say that I am excited about the young ladies coming in this upcoming fall and believe that these additions along with the returners that have the varsity experience; we have created a very solid foundation to truly build from for the future success of this program.
Sammy Fluck from Becker, MN will be asked to move from her traditional middle hitter position to the left side hitting position. It is a change that she will be able to make comfortably with her very high skill level.
Elizabeth "Z" Mahsem from McFarland, WI was a late addition to our class but we are very fortunate have her coming to DWU. "Z" is a force at the net offensively and should be a great option for our offense in the middle of the court.
Maggie Stehly from Sioux Falls, SD should be considered one of the top libero prospects coming out of the state of SD. At 5'10" she can cover a lot of court with her length and fortunately we signed her rather than one of the local D1 or D2's got her.
Mallory Jark from Warner, SD will be a great addition to our roster as a utility hitter. Primarily a middle hitter, Mallory can hit from any position on the court and defend the back court relatively well. A very high ceiling of potential.
Hannah Hammer from Dell Rapids, SD is a tall, left-handed right side attacker. We will be able to extend our offensive range by adding Hannah to our roster. Everyone like to have a lefty on the right side, we are no different.
MacKenzie Stevens from Polk, NE is a high energy player that can hit on the left side and be a very strong defensive player. Another competitive player that is athletic and very skilled as a passer.
Sarah Kruse from George, IA is another athletic player with a surprisingly fast arm swing that explodes on the ball. With the limited amount of depth at the left side position, her height and aggressive swing could be valuable early in her career.
Karlee Huber from Rapid City, SD is a combination left side hitter and defensive specialist. She is very aggressive defender and plays so hard on every play. I believe a great addition to our mentality on defense.
Jaymie Barrett from Scotland, SD is a setter that will help add some depth to our roster in that position. Jaymie has an understanding of not trying to over-analyze situations and simply gets the job done.
Shelby Vosburg from Baltic, SD is primarily a MH but does have some ability to play other positions on the court, even as a defensive player. She plays with a high VB IQ level that normally has her positioned extremely well to make plays.
Jessalyn Weink from De Smet, SD is raw talent with a very strong arm swing. I have seen her hit some very heavy attacks that quite honestly scare some players. We can't wait to unleash her on the GPAC.
This class of 11 athletes is possibly the most overall athletic class I have brought in to DWU. Six of the 11 are at least 6' tall and 2 others are at least 5'10". There will be a lot asked of each of these players this upcoming season as well as during their entire careers while at DWU.
The future seems bright with these athletes along with the talent that we brought in for 2011. Skilled athletes with high ceilings for progress; everything a coach wants in a rebuilding phase.
It's a great time to be a Tiger Volleyball Player and even a great time to want to be a part of our future.
- Coach V
July 24, 2012
I meant to do at least 1 or 2 posts about the spring season for the team. Better late than never right?
After finishing the season with the amount of injuries we had we were forced to play a lot of younger players (mainly freshmen) in situations we weren't ready to put them in yet. However, all things considered the growth of each player was great in the last 3 weeks of the season. Our focus in the spring was to focus purely on Serve Receive Passing and Transition Hitting. I believe our consistency in these areas has gotten better but you never know how it will translate to the following fall season after nearly 3 months off because of the summer break. We went into the spring with 18 players and a lot of focus towards each day that we trained. There were a lot of very good days that built confidence in every player.
As we approached the time in April that team practices would start we had some roster changes (both injury and departure) occur that we weren't expecting and I can say that it did affect the overall feeling of our team looking towards the near future. We had to alter our focus on lineup creation a bit as we competed in some friendly spring tournaments with other teams in the area. There were some big eye-opening moments for us that showed some of our players areas of improvement that we thought we had fixed. By the end of the spring season, there was a great deal of progress and understanding of what truly needs to be done on an individual skill level to achieve the team goals we have for the upcoming couple of seasons. Experiences were gained in the struggles we faced on the court and sometimes that is the best teacher.
Now that we are approaching the start of the season I can only hope that every returner comes back to campus in top form and ready to continue the progress and strive to make DWU a force to be reckoned with in the GPAC.
- Coach V
October 24, 2011
October 17, 2011
We have had 4 conference matches and 1 non-conference match in the past 2 weeks. The conference match ups were not friendly to us as we played 4 of the top 6 teams in the conference. In every match we had some great competitive moments of controlling play for 2/3 of sets and even taking a set but we just seemed to run out of offensive firepower at the end of sets when you need it the most. Every match we played the past 2 weeks has come down to untimely errors on our part. Missed serves after already giving up a 4 point run. Attacking balls in the net or out of bounds on free ball opportunities. Not focusing on the key attackers of the opponent during situations where they need a crucial point. It keeps coming back to inexperience in big game situations, we will continue to grow and I believe that we will get better in this situations this upcoming week. WE HAVE TO!
One performance in the past 2 weeks that needs to be applauded is Rachel Tinklenberg while we were at York this past weekend. She had 24 kills and 3.5 blocks in the match and at a couple of different times in the match she would get 4 kills in a row. She carried our team to a near match victory as we did have match point in the 4th set. However the team could not overcome the 69 errors we committed in the match.
Our roller coaster of positive and negative experiences on the court is continuing this fall. As much as I love real life roller coasters I would really like to get off of this one. This group of young ladies will continue to fight and never give up. They will continue to believe they can reach their goals and achieve great things. I believe in them and will continue to work my hardest everyday to give them more competitive experiences in practice and prepare them for the rigors of the home stretch of our very competitive conference schedule. WE WILL NEVER QUIT ON OURSELVES OR EACH OTHER!!!!
- Coach V
October 3, 2011
Sorry for the delay in getting some information up here. It has been and extremely hectic 2 weeks. We have gone through some extreme emotional situations over the past 2 weeks and we are truly just starting the recovery and rebuilding process.
Since my last time on here we were at 7-6 and just prior to that we were 7-3 on the season. I am sad to say that the left column hasn't changed in the past 2 weeks and we are now sitting at 7-13 on the season. We have battled hard in most of the matches and had to change our lineups for numerous situations. Coming out of the Viterbo tournament we felt that we were close to getting our consistency figured out on offense and just needed a little bit of pure focus on certain areas of our game to get things running smoothly again. We entered into conference play that week against Dordt and unfortunately our SR passing was not consistent to allow us to get our primary hitters involved in a faster tempo offense to keep their big block split more often and ended up dropping the match 0-3. We had the weekend off to let the team refocus and get away from volleyball for a little bit and be able to come back with a renewed passion and eagerness to learn. Our 3 practices heading into our next conference match against Morningside were highly competitive and intense, we had confidence. We battled during the first set and felt that we let the first set slip away from us with some untimely errors at the end of the set. We then ran into the buzz saw of the Morningside offense as they went through the next 2 sets without committing a single attacking error (there is no one in the country that can beat a team that doesn't commit errors).
We understood that our first 2 opponents for conference play were high quality teams and matches that we were the considered the underdogs. We approached the weekend knowing that our opponent, Concordia, had been playing well and that our two teams were evenly matched. It was going to be a very tough match for both teams. Each team traded sets all the way up to the 5th set and most of the sets were close outside of our 2nd set victory where controlled all of the play to a 25-15 win. I knew that we were the more talented team at that time but hoped that our inability to play consistently was gone for the day. Set 3 both teams played well but they outlasted us. In Set 4 we played better statistically but they fought to keep it close. Then in the 5th, the error bug bit us and bit us in a major way. We opened up the 5th with 5 or 6 straight unforced errors and put ourselves in a major hole that we weren't able to get out of and went on to lose the 5th set. It was crushing lose to us knowing we had an opportunity to close them out and couldn't do it. The worst part for me as a coach is looking at the statistics and seeing that nearly all of the stat categories we won, just not the one that counts, the game scores. I left the gym wondering if a match like this would have a hangover affect on our team. I would get to find out the next week as we went to face Mt. Marty.
Let me preface this next section by saying that this could could be one of the toughest weeks to ever go through as a coach or player.
Even to this day I believe that we are leaps and bounds much better than Mt. Marty and have and incredible amount of talent and athleticism over them. However, on the night we played them it had to be the worst match we have ever played. We committed a total of 55 to 60 errors in the 4 sets we played. Yes, we gave them 2 sets worth of points in our own errors. It was one of the more disappointing matches I have ever been involved in and it was heartbreaking to the team as well. The recovery process was going to be long and the demeanor of the team needed to change as well as the lineup. So we approached the next day at practice (with only 1 day to prepare for the next match) with an intense team meeting and a complete refocus on accountability on the court. I felt good about the meeting and the response from the team in their understanding of the new goals set ahead of them. Then the chaos and adversity we thought we had just gotten past hit square in the face as our senior OH, went down from landing awkwardly after an attack to a devastating knee injury. The positive energy and emotion we had flowing in the gym came to a screeching halt in a matter of seconds. Our thoughts about preparation for USF went directly to concern for her; we had once again lost our focus on the task at hand. As we continued with practice the need for a new lineup was absolutely necessary as we now had to figure out how to fill the hole left by the injury and who would be able to pick up the slack as now our 2nd leading attacker was most likely done for the season. We took the rest of practice not preparing for USF but figuring out which lineup would give us the best shot at competing the next night. We entered into the match against USF knowing we were just trying to figure things out and hoping to play well. We started the match very slow but managed to nearly find a way to win the first as we held a lead very late in the set around 25-24 but then went on to lose the set 27-29. Heart, fight, guts whatever you want to call, we showed it in the first set and were hoping to continue that trend through the rest of the match. The 2nd set was similar albeit that we stayed close for nearly the entire set and didn't let up, but then the error bug bit us again and we dropped the 2nd set 19-25 and the 3rd set was filled with unforced errors that not even our defense could remedy to help extend rallies. We spoke after the match about what qualities we need to have with the team as we go forward knowing that we were needing to change lineups and do things we did not plan at the beginning of the year. It was a positive meeting and we all had an understanding about what needed to come from each person to get back on track.
We then tried to prepare for the weekend as we were making a trip to ND to face Jamestown and Valley City. Our main focus heading into the weekend and from here on out is to fight for every point, extend rallies and with play with great intensity. We played Jamestown on Saturday hearing the chatter in stands they believed that the match was going to go 3 and be the fastest match in their history. Well the first set certainly gave that indicator as we committed around 16 errors and they were errors that we had control over. We took the between game time to emphasize our decision making that was causing the errors and came out and absolutely dominated play for the first 2/3 of the 2nd set. We minimized our errors to where we stayed away from committing 3 or 4 in a row. We gave away 1 run of 4 or 5 points late in the set that got them kind of back in the set but we closed them out at 25-21 (it wasn't really that close until the last mini run by them). We were proving to ourselves that no matter who play if we limit the scoring runs we give on our own errors we can play with and beat anyone. It felt great. But could we do it in back to back sets? The answer unfortunately was no as we went on to commit 16 errors again in the 3rd set and 11 errors in the 4th set. When we keep the amount of errors to 10 or less in any given set we have won nearly all of those sets this season. The Valley City match ended up being a lot of the same from the week, we committed numerous errors in a row early in sets and then had to fight back to get back in it. Our set scores were 19, 22 and 23, the team battled so fiercely and I believe we will get this ship righted very soon, as long as we begin to learn how to limit the errors we give away in a row. We also had to deal with our senior MH get extremely sick during the weekend and then could barely play against Valley City. So we had to adjust our lineup again without preparation. We'll see what happens this upcoming week as we get back into conference play and search for the conference win that has eluded us thus far. Wish us luck and wish us healthy.
September 12, 2011
We came out of the Corn Palace Classic not as confident as a team normally should after going 3-1 over that weekend. The 5 set loss to Dakota State took something out of us. We headed to Presentation College in Aberdeen on the 7th knowing we should be able to take care of business relatively quickly. I think for the most part we did (first 2 sets we only allowed 17 and 12 points) but lost some focus in the 3rd set and let them come back and make that set interesting and forcing us to beat them 27-25. A little hectic but we got the job done. A win is a win!
We had another big trip ahead of us for the weekend. A trip to La Crosse, WI at Viterbo University for a tournament. Our 2 players from Green Bay were so looking forward to this trip. I think I have heard enough reasons why Wisconsin is great - so they think HAHA.
Coming in to the season I knew this was going to be a tournament that had the potential to be difficult. My expectation was 2-2 because of the two potential Top 25 teams we were scheduled to face there (Viterbo & Northwestern). How many of you get that feeling the day before or even the day of a competition and you just don't feel right, like something is missing? I unfortunately had that feeling on the Friday morning of the tournament. I tried to shake it all day and come up with all of these confidence building sayings and thoughts. Well my gut must have been telling me something as we entered in to the first match with Waldorf College (who was winless on the season at that time). They played right before our match and were competing so hard defensively just frustrating their opponent. I knew we were about to have the same match with them. Waldorf came out with the confidence of a team that was undefeated, scrapping for every point and making us have to earn every point. It was taxing on the players. Both teams battled back and forth for the first 4 sets and even through the entire 5th set. We finally made a statement and put our stamp on the match at the (I believe) 12-13 score in the 5th set and us being down. Out of the timeout we had a crossing pattern play drawn out to get a potential matchup for Freshman Danielle Bird to take the biggest swing of the season. In the the timeout, I told her to just put the ball away no matter what. Her response was a thunderous kill that blasted the opposing libero in the gut, I swear the gym was filled with the sounds of Danielle's contact of the ball and the ball's contact of the libero's stomach - it was the momentum play we had searched for all match long. We went on to win 17-15 in the 5th.
Our next 3 matches for the weekend were struggles to say the least. Northwestern played at an unbelievable pace that we weren't ready for and stuck it to us. The next morning we thought we had a great chance to get that second win of the tournament against Hannibal-LaGrange. Our offense was inconsistent and we couldn't put together the runs we normally get and lost each set by 2 or 3 points. Here is the hard pill to swallow - Looking at the stat sheets from both teams we had better attacking numbers and blocking numbers as well as more digs. However, HLG committed 6 less errors than we did throughout the match and therefore earned them the win. We finished the tournament by playing #21 at the time Viterbo. They play at a very high tempo with their offense and their setter is extremely accurate and athletic, the key to the team. We opened up the first set with dismal passing and found ourselves in a big double digit hole. But then we caught a break, during a play their setter got injured and had to leave the match. Informing the team of the big break that was just presented to them about the heart of their team now out for potentially the entire match, we had a chance. Our response was positive for the next 2 sets as we pushed Viterbo to change their offense to set players that don't normally get as many swings. I thought we were going to pull out the 3rd set to force a 4th but as it was the entire weekend our offensive efficiency (ability to score points and not just keep balls in play or give away points) held us back from reaching our goals. We did however, leave the tournament with our heads held high knowing that the ability to play good ball is in us and that we just have to demand and expect more from our individual performances to ignite the team.
Our tournament season is over and now we head into the true purpose for our season - the GPAC conference season. Our overall youth has been a slight reason for our ups and downs but we now have to get through the adversity we create and fight our way to the top. The matches we have played are a big part of the experience we need to compete in this great conference. We must now look forward to achieve our goal of finishing in the top 8 of the conference and make it into the conference tournament. The near future is bright this group of women, it is our time to show that youth is not a negative thing when it comes to competition.
- Coach V
September 5, 2011
Before we go any further I have to give a HUGE THANK YOU to our JV team and other volunteers for operating the scores table, line judging, and ball shagging all weekend. All of you did a fantastic job and worked extremely long hours. I hope the payment of free food all weekend was sufficient.
Looking back at our weekend we finished 3-1, which is a very positive weekend. However, losing your very last match of a tournament against a rival will always leave a sour taste in your mouth. We opened the weekend on Friday playing Dickinson State. They had recently added 2 players that weren't playing the weeks before from suspension and were 2 very athletic OH's. We weren't sure how much they would change their team but after watching them jump out to a commanding 2 set to 0 lead on York in their first match of the tournament it was clear they were very different then what we saw the weekend before when they were out in Montana. They did end up losing some steam and lost in 5 to York but we still saw them as a dangerous team. We came out extremely focused on our game plan to take the line away from one of those hitters and cross court against the other. The execution of our blocking and then the addition of very solid ball control to keep us in system allowed us to dominate play in a 3 set victory, 25-18, 25-14, 25-15. We hit .370 in the match with only 1 attacker having more than 1 attacking error while also averaging 16 digs a set. It was a great overall match both offensively and defensively. It was an exceptional start to the weekend. We got great balanced performances from Larissa Veldhuizen and Danielle Bird while Kacie Sanderson and TyAnn Buddenhagen were extremely efficient attacking the ball with .417 and .556 hitting %'s. Katie Lindow also came in off the bench as a serving specialist to provide an ace and 3 digs.
We finished Friday night with our match against York College. In the previous few years York had always been a team that you could get school records against because of their level of play. Well not anymore, after seeing them come back from 0-2 to win 3-2 against Dickinson, it was very clear they were a team that had some talent, skill and were well coached. Kudos to Coach Fear for really getting things turned around there at York. This match was competitive the entire time. We could not put them away in any set early to give us that breathing space we like to have to close out sets. We took the first 2 sets (25-22 & 25-20 respectively and then York pushed us to the limit to take the 3rd set 25-23. We had to battle hard again in the 4th to finally close out the match 25-21. We did a great job in the serve & serve receive game with 11 aces and only 2 reception errors. We did well at the net with 11 total blocks and 49 kills. Larissa Veldhuizen was the go to player as she recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs. Katie Lindow again provided some offense with 6 service aces in her serving specialist role. While Sam Sandua continued her consistency for the season with a .238 hitting % and adding 8 kills. And Rachel Tinklenberg hit .300 with 9 kills and added 5 block assists. Tyann Buddenhagen and Briana Jung both provided quality setting and great defense as both were above 15 digs each in the match.
We opened Saturday against Valley City State. This has turned into a big rivalry match over the past 3 seasons. Heading into this match the 2 teams had played 4 times since 2009 with every match going 5 sets. We had a 3-1 record vs. VCSU heading into the match this weekend. It may have also grown into more of a rivalry since the head coach there is my wife's best friend and college teammate. It was a tight match the entire, trading the first 3 sets with us up 2-1 and barely pulling out the 3rd set. We managed to figure out some things with our offensive efficiency for the 4th set to stop the 5 set match streak at 4 and beat VCSU in 4 sets. I can honestly say that looking at the statistics without the scores one would guess VCSU won the match. However, our perseverance through the adversity of not playing as well as we did the day before and against an opponent that wanted the win was extremely key to the victory. We got another double-double out of Larissa Veldhuizen with 13 kills and 13 digs. Brooke Warne provided 20 digs in the match to anchor the defense and Sam Sandau again was Miss consistency with 9 kills with a .350 hitting %. It should be another great match when we go to Valley City the first weekend of Oct.
The last match of the weekend had us facing another rival in Dakota State. They had played some strong volleyball throughout the tournament and I knew they would come out ready to play. Both teams battled hard in the first set to a 25-22 DWU victory. Dak State committed a lot of hitting errors in the first set to help us in that set. We knew that trend would not continue as they are a team that likes to tip and throw the ball around after making mistakes. The 2nd and 3rd set Dakota State pushed themselves out to quick 5 and 6 point leads and never looked back as we looked like deer in headlights during those sets as we could only score 13 and 17 in those sets. The execution of the game plan was non-existence and the focus on the 2 hitters that Dak State uses all of the time was poor. It did not look good for us heading into the 4th set. Again we came out flat in the 4th but fortunately not putting ourselves in too big of hole. Dakota State began to make a few more attacking errors to help us stay close. As we approached the final 5 to 6 points in the set something changed in the attitude of how the team was approaching game and our energy level rose as well as our communication. We clawed our way back to a 23-23 tie and found a way to pull out the 4th to set up what would be a very intense 5th set. The first half of the 5th was back and forth as both teams played well to the 8-7 switch with DWU up. But after the switch of court we lost confidence after back to back throw kills to both deep corners from their MH. They were devastating kills that took the wind out of our sail and unfortunately the aggression out of our game (which will never happen again). It was heart breaking and even to today I have a sour taste in my mouth about how it finished. We did get some good quality performances from Brooke Warne with 25 digs and another double-double from Larissa Veldhuizen with 13 kills and 13 digs again. Other double-doubles recorded were by Danielle Bird with 11 kills and 12 digs and Briana Jung with 24 assists and 15 digs.
Again we'll take the 3-1 record and move on with a lot more learning coming our way about how to stay aggressive the entire time we play and to limit how much the other team can control what we want to do to score points. We head into the first full week of September with a 5-3 record and with a good amount of confidence as we travel to Presentation College in Aberdeen, SD on Wednesday the 7th and then out to Viterbo University in LaCrosse, WI for Sept. 9-10.
Wish us luck.
- Coach V
August 28, 2011
The JV team competed hard all weekend and did well considering 6 of the 8 players that were there played out of position. They played 5 matches during the weekend and had some opportunities to take a couple of sets but kind of stalled out at the end of those particular sets. Assistant Coach Dannie Burt coached them all weekend and said that there were a lot of bright spots from Paige VandenMeerendonk who was being forced to play in the middle rather than on a pin where she is more comfortable. There was also a big moment when 5'5" Lacey Reimnitz (playing LS, out of position) went up and crushed a kill down around the 15 ft. mark for a point in the first match of the weekend. They said that you could see the cape behind her as she flew in the air to take the swing. LOL.
Great job ladies.
The varsity team had what we would consider a roller coaster weekend with only one major drop. Fortunately that drop came in the very first match of the year against MT Tech. That's all we'll say about that one. We have decided to go out of sight, out of mind with that match. We then played MT Western and started off slow, most likely an hangover from the previous match, but somewhere in the middle of the 2nd set things picked up with communication and energy level. We still dropped the 2nd set but we could feel a change. That change came out a 5 set match win with some great performances from Larissa Veldhuizen and Danielle Bird. Check out the stats from the online schedule.
We woke up the next morning feeling better about our chances and came to face nationally ranked Rocky Mountain who in the previous weekend had beaten two top 10 teams in straight sets while out in California. We knew we had our hands full. It was a match of big runs, they had a 8 to 9 point run then we had 7 to 8 point run, each team had big runs like that in every set. Although we lost in straight sets we actually built more confidence in ourselves as we continued to look back at how the match was played, we blocked well and forced a team much bigger than us to have to use more tips and roll shots to get points. We also put a lot of pressure on their serve receive passers keeping them out of system for a majority of the match. We finished the weekend off by playing MT State-Northern, who had been playing extremely well all weekend long. It was a hard fought match with us losing the 1st set, winning the next 2 but dropping the 4th. We went into the 5th just feeling as if we have controlled nearly every aspect of the match but just let our focus slip a little in the 4th set. We came out and took control of the 5th after the 8 point switch to win 15-10. It felt amazing to leave the weekend with a win and to have a great feeling from a vast majority of the sets we played.
A lot of confidence is bubbling as the team enters into the first week of September and hosting our own Corn Palace Classic. Check out the schedule for the tournament here.
It is a good start to the season. We expect to continue this climb with confidence over the coming weeks to prepare us for the difficult GPAC schedule ahead.
- COACH V
July 21, 2011
Big news from the AVCA was just announced on July 20. The AVCA Team Academic Award recipient list was released and for the 2nd time in the 10 year history of award the DWU VB program was on the list for the 2010-2011 academic year. We just missed out on the 2009-2010 award by 0.04 points. We were only 1 of 30 NAIA teams to receive the award. The award honors those teams that hold a cumulative team GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale. We are extremely proud of this award and something we hope will be a consistent thing we achieve every year.
I also have started a Twitter account (@coachviney). Go ahead follow this account as I'll be sending out updates from the season as well as the occasional update from my life. Don't worry, I won't be sending out tweets of what kind of cereal I am eating and that my wife's cat got stuck in the cupboard, lol. I'll keep it about volleyball and other cool things like when my son is born in October. Please follow me @coachviney.
The preseason is just around the corner for all of us. I wish every team the best as you go through your preparations for the fall. I'll keep you all updated as we get closer to the start of the season.
June 24, 2011
We have officially added Paige VandenMeerendonk of Green Bay, WI to the roster. Paige is a very strong OH that can hit with a ton of force. She has a pretty high ceiling of potential and will be a great asset for our program over the next 4 seasons. We are excited to have Paige as a Tiger.
Myriah Beiswanger is a DS from Mitchell, SD out of Mt. Vernon HS where she played the libero and OH positions during her career. Myriah will help provide some consistency in our serve receive game. It will be great to have a hometown kid in our program. It has been a while since we have had a Mitchell kid in our program. Myriah will bring a supportive energy to our program on and off the court.
We have also signed Vonnie Fredrick a libero out of Elba, NE from Central Community College in Columbus, NE. Vonnie is a great competitor and has a great deal of experience as a libero and DS at a high level of competition while at CCC. Vonnie is an exciting defensive player and has high VB IQ and court awareness. We are extremely fortunate to have Vonnie coming to DWU this upcoming fall.
These 3 young ladies are great people and have wonderful personalities that mesh extremely with our current roster. We have putting a major effort in getting the "best people" not just the "best athletes". We are heading in the right direction as a program and I am unbelievably excited about the future of this program.
As this 2011 recruiting season comes to a close the 2012 class has already been up and going and in full swing. We have had around 8 2012 HS seniors on campus from January to this late June time and have a had a great response from each visit and we have even received a verbal commitment at this time from one of our top recruits. Let's just say we stole her away from some major programs and are fortunate to do it so early in the summer. This will hopefully be the first recruit we have signed before the fall season begins since I have been at DWU. I am actually hoping that we can get at least 1 more athlete to commit before the fall season and maybe even 2 more. We'll see and be working our tail off to make it happen. To be a part of an up and coming program that relishes being the underdog and is ever so quickly getting to be a bigger name in our conference and region is exciting for every competitive athlete out there. Our time for greatness is just around the corner.
- Coach V
June 15, 2011
Our HS level skills camp was exciting. I didn't know what kind of response we would get with it being the first one we have done but we did get a good number of over 25 participants for that camp. This camp was a great opportunity for the campers to get involved in some high intensity drills that we use at DWU and to learn some advanced concepts and strategies about the game. We also had a couple of recruits come up for the camp to from Texas and Minnesota. It was a great opportunity for our players to meet and play with these players in a get to know type of atmosphere. It paid off as we did get a verbal commitment from our Minnesota recruit.
This year's team camp ended up being a good after we were nervous to not have enough teams as heading up to it we had 2 teams back out on us at the last minute. It was amazing to see the growth of the players and the teams as we went through 3 days of hard team concept training. It was such a great camp and so beneficial for the players and coaches. We had a great response from the coaches as to the great amount of time we spent on skill development while at the same time being able to do it in a 6 v 6 format. We held a tournament to finish off camp and Ethan HS defeated Baltic HS to win the championship. We then capped off camp with an All-Star match that included 10 players from the teams at camp facing the DWU players that were at camp to coach. The match started off pretty tight as the All-Stars held a quick lead but the ability to terminate the ball late in the game in transition for the DWU players ended up being too much for the All-Stars as the final margin of victory ended up being 9 points. It was fun to see some of the All-Stars raise their level of play against these college players.
We will always continue to put forth a well planned camp and bring a fun learning environment. I want to thank all of the DWU players that were here to help with camp. Thank you to Brooke Warne, Kayla O'Connell, Liz Humiston, Jordyn Heath, Cara Chomey, Stacie Brinker, Katie Lindow, Vanessa Johanneson, Myriah Beiswanger, Ashley Styer, and Briana Jung. These ladies did a great job with teaching the skills but also staying positive and energetic through the entire week. Great job ladies.
April 18, 2011
April 14, 2011
October 20, 2010
We are almost through that gruelling stage right now. We have almost completed the part of our schedule that had us playing all Top 6 teams in the conference in a row. It started with #19 in NCAA DIII poll (3)Nebraska Wesleyan on the 9th, #4 in the NAIA national poll (1) Northwestern on the 12th, (6) Hastings on the 15th, #15 in the nation (2) Doane on the 16th, #19 in the nation (4) Dordt on the 19th. We have (5) USF this upcoming Saturday.
The schedule has never been friendly to us at this time of the year but yet neither has the ability to shoot ourselves in the foot with unforced errors. This is one of those points in time that you get through and then move on as quickly as possible and try to put it to the back of your mind and forget it ever happened.
Some positives that we can look at as we progress in the final stage of our season is that we get to go back to our 6-2 setup with the return of Rachel Tinklenberg, back from an injury which held her out for from the start of this part of the schedule. Ashley Kley is beginning to get her offensive game back from a year ago at this time. Kimi Lueders is showing her offensive talent and the reason why she was put in the lineup on a little bit more consistent basis. Meghan Cronberg is beginning to understand that attack location is just as important as power and the combination of the two is lethal. We need these four players as well as Carina Fesenmaier, Stacie Brinker, Andrea Johnson, Kacie Sanderson, Brooke Warne, Sam Sandau, Wendy Schmaltz, Kayla O'Connell, Kalissa Wade, Kara Robertson, Liz Humiston, Kelli Swenson, Lacey Reimnitz, redshirt Larissa Veldhuizen and even our injured players Lexi Townsend, Sage Knudson, Nikki Gleich and Sarah Stahlke to be at the top of their emotional, mental and physical abilities on an everyday basis. We need the commitment to self-improvement and the ability to help teammates improve to be at is greatest level than ever before.
We have an opportunity to go out win our next 6 matches. Our opponents are all very beatable and not to our level of play when we have absolute focus on our game plan, skills, and togetherness. I go back to last week's comment, "IT IS THAT TIME OF THE YEAR". We are in that moment, that stage, that time of the year where great things only happen when you fear nothing and you give every drop of energy to your play, your sport, your TEAM.
- Coach V
October 10, 2010
It is also that time of the season that our conference schedule becomes very unfriendly to us. This past Saturday was the beginning of a stretch of matches where we play all top 5 teams in the conference in a row, then a non-conference match, and then the 6th place team. Why not throw that schedule right on top of the pile, lol. We are ready for it and are going into this stretch with a great deal of focus and preparation. To be the best in this conference you have to go through the top teams eventually (not all at once though). Yet this seems to be the schedule we have every season in mid-October. It's that time of the season.
So here is a quick review for those of you that missed out on our previous week of matches. We came off of a great match win at Midland University on the 2nd of Oct. feeling great. Our next match was at USF on that Tuesday. We came in confident and focused. We had to adjust our lineup due to the season ending injury to Sarah Stahlke, our most consistent serve receive passer on the season. Although we felt that we could manage and still perform at high level. We certainly did for the first set and half. We controlled every aspect of the match during the first set, forcing them to make at least 3 substitutions they were not planning to make. We then came out again with a quick start and about a 7-8 point advantage at like 16-8or9. And then we froze up, our serve receive passing became our worst enemy. We were stuck in one rotation for 12 straight points and that comfortable lead we had became a deficit very quickly. It was heart-wrenching and we all knew that it wasn't going end well. We struggled the rest of the match as we could not find a way to build our confidence against basically 2 of their servers as they ran us off the court with extremely aggressive serving. It was like being hit in the chest and not ever seeing it coming, everything just leaves you and you struggle to find your breathe and bearing as to where you are. We knew we let them off the hook.
We came back into the next couple of practices with that extremely sour taste of "what if". We had to figure out a way to just suck it up and get better with our ball control. There was an understanding that heading into the weekend that our Friday match against, then 0-6 in GPAC play, Concordia was a must win situation for us. We adjusted our lineup again during practices to give us a little bit more consistency with our passers. Then Friday came and with our lower numbers we were forced to play some Varsity players in the JV match. One of our starting MH's, Rachel, came down on a teammate during the last segment of the JV warm up and hurt her ankle. She played during the first set of the JV but couldn't do much with movement so we decided to shut her down for the night. With that decision we had to make a drastic change from what our practices had prepared us for. Without the additional hitter we were forced to go back into a 5-1 setup that we used earlier in the season. It seemed to work out OK. We had our struggles passing but we played consistently enough to win 3 close sets to take the match. Carina set a very solid match after not running a 5-1 in about 2-3 weeks. Our OH's came out to play and sparked our offense. Meghan and Ashley will need to continually perform at a high level within out of system hitting to keep us stable since our passing has been streaky of late. It was a great win for us and something we felt we could build on heading into the next night.
On Saturday, we faced Nebraska Wesleyan. Who was just coming off of very long 5 set match against Dordt. I thought we would have the advantage with energy level, feeling that they may have been tired from the gruelling match the night before and the 2 hour travel in the morning. However, in the first set it looked like we were the ones that traveled 2 hours and just woke up. We needed a spark, some emotion, some fire. We found it in the 2nd set as we battled extremely hard to come back and win the set 27-25. We felt good about our play and felt that we could pull out something special. We battled hard in the 3rd and 4th sets but could pull out the wins. There always seemed to be 1-2 rotations that held us back from controlling the tempo of the match. Our offense power was not with the rest of the match as it seemed all of our attacks were dug up by NWU and they limited our kills. A lack of offense has been a key contributor all year to some of our struggles. We are trying to implant that "killer instinct" into our hitter's attitudes and mental approach to attacking balls. I tell them all the time if we are going to go down let's go down swinging and trying to take off the opponent's blocking arms or digger's heads, haha.
We head into this week with an uncertainty about Rachel's ankle as well as our serve receiving passing confidence and attacking attitude. It is going to very interesting to see how this group of young ladies responds to the great challenges ahead of them with playing the top 6 teams in the conference all in a 2 week period of time. It's gut check time, who has the mental fortitude to not care about who the opponent it and just go out and execute the skills and game plan that is required of them. Who can face the challenge, stare it right in the face and scream as loud as they can, "I WILL CONQUER YOU".
IT IS THAT TIME OF THE SEASON!!!!
- Coach V
October 3, 2010
We had 3 days to prepare for Morningside, a team always at the top of our conference but with them having a lot of new players on their roster and with some of the matches they had lost I felt that this could be a time to get while they were a little down. During the week of practice we tried to emphasize starting quick and controlling the serve receive portion of our game to give us chances to compete throughout the match. The first 2 days went fairly well for practice for all of the players. However, on the Friday practice only half of the team really showed up to compete in practice. I feared the worst after the practice heading into Saturday's match against Morningside. My fears held up true as nothing seemed to go right for most of the match. We missed serves, we didn't pass well in serve receive, our defensive discipline was non-existent and we had a lot of hitting errors. It was one of those matches that you swear all of the players were abducted by aliens and it was just their bodies there and not their minds, hahaha. So our JV lost quickly in 2 and our Varsity lost in 3. It was one of those days that you just hope as a coach that the players realize that your past successes only mean something up until the start of the next match. You have to give everything for every match and when you give teams that are struggling a little bit of momentum it is tough to take it away from them. It was time to refocus on discipline and constant focus.
So we had an opportunity to get ourselves back on track by hosting Dakota State on the following Tuesday. We were very confident coming in and gaining confidence with our new lineup. We did know that Dakota State was going to come in with a great amount of energy and really looking to steal a win from us. Both teams came out with a lot of energy in the match and it seemed that all the way up to the 17 point area of each of the 1st two sets that both teams were even in play but then DSU would make a small 3-4 run and separate themselves from us and go up 2-0 in the match. We went in to the intermission between the 2nd and 3rd set knowing that something was missing, not necessarily with skill and strategy but with heart and purpose in every movement we do on the court. We talked about discipline and passion during the intermission and came out of the locker room a completely different team. We came out and seemed like we could do nothing wrong offensively or defensively. Our team defensive positioning and discipline was outstanding. We put DSU away in the 3rd and 4th sets with them only scoring 14 and 13 points (complete dominating performances). So we again force another match to a 5th set and again when we started down 2-0. The 5th set started with both teams going back and forth a with points. After a few points back and forth our defense and offensive transition took over and we seemed to continually go 2 or 3 points to their one to finish of the match. It was another 5 set victory for us and we always take them. We are certainly becoming that team that no one wants to let hang around in matches because we will find ways to get the win.
The very next night we had a conference match against Briar Cliff. A team that I feel roster wise and system wise we matched up very well against. It was an opportunity for both teams to gain a spot in the standings as both of us were sitting at 1-3. We played well for most of the match but at the 15-17 point area of each of the 3 sets we played we just seemed to run out of gas a little bit. Could it have been that the 5 set comeback from behind win the night before took a lot out of us? It is possible. Again it always came down to defensive discipline as we were constantly finding ourselves out of position at key moments in each set. We also did not have an outstanding offensive showing which kept us from putting more pressure on their defense. We dropped the match in 3 but could have a small feeling of leaving the match that with how inefficient we were offensively we still gave ourselves chances to stay in each set and potentially get the job done.
We looked at the next two days of practice as great opportunities to get more in tuned with our defensive intensity and discipline. The two practices went very well leading into our match against Midland University. We left to travel to Midland on Friday night after practice to make sure that we got great rest for the afternoon match time. There was a great amount of focus in both matches. The JV unfortunately lost in 2 but it there were some really good moments in the match. The varsity came out with an unbelievable amount purpose, discipline, and focus. We came out and took the first two sets with great confidence. We went in to the next set knowing that the match was not over and that we needed to continue to raise our level of energy and play. Midland for sure increased their energy and started to really complete their game plan against us. They served aggressive and kept us from being in system to get quality swings. They had us playing very inefficiently in all aspects of our game and took the next 2 sets of the match easily to even it up at 2-2. It was kind of a role reversal for us. We were normally the team that starts down 2-0 to come back to even the match. It has never been the other way around. It was going to be interesting to see how we would respond from being so close to closing out the match early. The 5th set started with both teams trading points for nearly the entire set. Midland found a couple of times that they would pull out in front by two points, their first time was at the switch at 8-6. We were forced to make some lineup changes due to and injury and it was nerve racking because we had to bring in players that were being put into positions they don't normally play. We battled the rest of the way, eventually finding ourselves down 13-10 after being aced for the 16th time. We sided-out and found some phenomenal discipline in our defensive structure for 3 plays in a row to get us a 14-13 lead and a match point. I felt this was our moment and that we needed to finish it on the next point. Midland came up with a great play to sideout to even the score and get one of their servers that had given us trouble all match going back to serve. After that you don't normally feel comfortable about the next serve to receive. However, we found a way to pass a perfect ball and sideout on a first ball swing to tie up the set at 15-15. We took advantage of the opportunity to and won the next point which was a long rally that both teams fought very hard to win. We fortunately had the best offensive opportunity of the rally and won the point. We went back to serve and Midland's serve receive let them down on the serve as they had to chase a ball down to their bench and give us a free ball. They knew exactly what we were going to run and had 2 blockers in great position to defend the attack but our aggressive swing to the edge of their block sent the ball out of bounds to win the match for us and let the celebration begin.
We have had a roller coaster of performances during the season to this point and this Midland match was a perfect example of it. However, most of the stuff before ended with losses for us. I believe now we have a true understanding that we can still win matches when things aren't going well in a match for us. We have the talent and size to compete in every match we play. Yet this is the point in time and I think this is the match that will catapult us into a wonderful run in building confidence and putting us in a great situation to compete at the highest level of our abilities night in and night out.
We believe we are a team on the rise and team that no one wants to face because we will never quit playing hard and we will always find ways to make it difficult to beat us. We have half of the season to build on this huge win for us. The time is now to see where we can truly go.
September 23, 2010
After our weekend of hosting a great tournament at the Corn Palace we had to quickly refocus and come back with a conference match against a very strong and nationally ranked (24) team in Dordt College. As we looked at film and then eventually as both teams were warming up we noticed something potentially could and would play a big factor in the match. Dordt is a very tall team across the front row all of the time. They ran a 6-2 offensive setup and in every front row position they had a not 1 player that was under 5' 11" (I think only 1 was 5'11" and the rest were all 6' and taller). We have 2-3 players with that kind of size. This was a match that we felt coming in was going to be controlled at the net and by the end of it Dordt clearly had the upper hand with their size. We did not find much success on sets to the antennaes as their double block on the right and left side was very good. However, we did have a lot of success in the middle of the court. Our middles did well when they got the ball and put Dordt in a lot of very difficult positions. If we only could have passed a little better I think we could have gotten them the ball a little more often and slowed down the speed of their blocking movements. Our success in the middle was not enough as we fell in 3 sets. Fortunately, we will get another chance to play them later next month and with our experiences against them as a bigger blocking team we will have the advantage of understanding how to hit around those big blockers and potentially how to use their size to our advantage by attacking the ball lower and off of their exposed arms to the edges of the court.
We left the Dordt match feeling that we didn't leave enough of ourselves out on the court, we held back for whatever reason. Was it an intimidation of a team that is better on paper or that we have struggled as of late and not overly confident with ourselves? We didn't know exactly what is was at the time but we knew we could figure it out. We didn't have time to dwell on it as we had leave the Dordt match behind us as the very next night we had to get right back up and play another match, this time against Presentation College.
We entered the Presentation match with the sour taste we had from the match the night before. We came out with a sense of purpose in our play at the start of the match and jumped out very quickly to big early lead in the first set. We went trying to focus on correcting the physical errors we committed the night before. There was a concsious effort put forth in making those changes. We were also fortunate that Presentation was not as big as Dordt; it actually turned out opposite as we were the team with the unbelievable size in the match. We controlled the tempo for pretty much the entire match. Presentation had a few good runs at times but never put us in real danger of feeling that we would lose any set. It was good to get the win and stop a nasty losing streak we were currently on. We still had some things to adjust and most importantly we had to build our team confidence that the hardwork does pay off.
After the Presentation match on Wednesday, we were fortunate to have 5 day period of time before our next match. We took that time to put together a new lineup together that would help solidify our serve receive passing while at the same time give us more offensive options. This was the only period of time during the season that if we were going to make any drastic changes it had to be now. It was great to get 4 practices in with the new setup and then to be able to come out and use it against conference foe Mt. Marty.
Our focus and level of energy was at a level it hadn't been all year heading in to the match on Tuesday. Dannie, our assistant coach, pointed it out to me right away as the girls were warming up, "They are here tonight focused and ready, no goofing off tonight". I looked out and saw the very same thing; It was wonderful to see 13 "game faces" on and ready to compete at the highest level. The night was ours to be had and there was no way that the team was going to let anyone take anything from them easily that night. It showed very quickly as we just came out and controlled every aspect of the game to take a very quick 11 point lead about halfway through the 1st set. We controlled the tempo of the game and momentum was all ours. Even when Mt. Marty made nice 6 point run near the end of the set to get them back to about 4 or 5 points away, we never budged with our toughness. We closed out the set with a 4 point run of our own and I believe it ended 25-17. We felt really good about things heading into the 2nd set and I think that our dominance of the 1st set gave us a little bit of a easy comfort level. Mt. Marty came out in the 2nd set and put together some nice runs to get a lead of anywhere between 3-5 points for the first probably half of the set. We then just chipped away with each serve opportunity we got. We go back and get 2-3 points while they would just side out and then lose their serve. Those little 2-3 point runs added up quickly for us and we pulled it back to even. Just before we pulled it back to even, I think we had the kill of the season so far as Andrea Johnson came on 1 foot take off "go" set out of serve receive play and just absolutely crushed the ball (I swear it hit the 10 ft line and made the line move) to short left back and bounced halfway up the bleachers on just the bounce from the contact in the court. The entire crowd gave the whole "OHHHHH!!!!!!" sound all at once. A few points later as a timeout was called Andrea was still in shock, "That is the hardest ball I have ever hit in my life". Of course my response was, "That is just the beginning for you". We battled back and forth from there on out in a tough 2nd set and had face a couple of set points and some moments that most teams would have normally folded and given the set away to come back and take the set 27-25. We didn't crack under the pressure and again our confidence and competive spirit was growing. Going into the 3rd set it was clear that we were going to find any and all ways to finish this match in 3 sets. Even when we came out slow again in the 3rd set, there wasn't the feel of "here we go again, not sure if we can dig ourselves out". It was kind of the opposite feeling in that we were going to figure this opponent out and just create small scoring runs to chip away and get us back to even where we could then show our dominance. Mt. Marty fought with a lot of hear in the last set and had us scrambling around and playing a style of play that is not like ours. At times the play was sloppy and slow with a lot of tips and junk balls sent over the net. Our team did an excellent job of adjusting and using their unconventional style against them as we turned many of their tips into quick offensive transition plays for us. Both teams battled right to the end and by the end of it we didn't commit errors while they did and we came away in the 3rd to close out the match with another 27-25 set victory.
It was great to get the victory and get ourselves comfortable with our new offensive and defensive setups. We passed in serve receive extremely well and our offense was very balanced. It looks good for the future as we progress. I truly believe that we can keep it going and continue to build confidence in each other, our system of play, and our ability to compete and beat the top teams in our conference.
- Coach V