Varsity Volleyball Looks to Continue a Strong Season

Varsity Volleyball Looks to Continue a Strong Season

        After getting to the finals against tough competition and going 32-13 throughout the entire season, the Westminster varsity volleyball team was riding high going into the 2015-16 season. The varsity team added juniors Liz Bailey, Claire Corbin, and Mary Tucker, as well as freshmen Ansley McNeel and Maggie McSwain. However, the VolleyCats also lost many key players such as Jacqueline Baltz, Kate Cordle, Mallie Egan, Kerrie Greene, Mason Rooney, and Mackenzie Shannon. Despite the seemingly slow start, can the VolleyCats turn it around and continue this success?

        The Cats have started the season 7-11, but the team seems to think that they can repeat their achievement of reaching the state finals.

         “Our record will inevitably show our growth as a team, but our ultimate goal is the state championship match,” said junior player Liz Bailey.

           Bailey also emphasized the team’s focus on getting to the State Play-Offs, rather than besting last season’s record.

        Assistant coach Colin Mackey agreed with Bailey saying, “In our program the expectation is always to be in the hunt for a State Championship.”

        So what’s to blame for the Cats’ bad start? Freshman Ansley McNeel thought that the team was a little too hard on themselves after some mistakes early on.

        “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time, and it got in our heads,” McNeel said.

One belief is that the Cats’ tough schedule has put them at a disadvantage.

         “We’ve played a lot of really tough competition, from lots of different classifications,” Mackey said. “Something like six or seven of our matches have been against teams who were in the state finals of their classifications this last year.”

          Bailey also discussed the team’s hard schedule.

         “The beginning of the season involved playing some tough teams in matches that would be challenging at any point of the season,” Bailey said.

        Throughout the beginning of the season, the volleyball team seems to have been practicing with different positions and line-ups to understand where each player fits best.

          “We’re trying out a lot of different things and line ups,” Mackey said. “At this point in the season, we’re still experimenting a lot.”

        “During our first couple of matches we were trying out new line-ups, rotations, and positions,” said Bailey.

        With so many new additions, it is easy to see why the VolleyCats have been struggling to find a rhythm early on. For many players, it is their first year on varsity, which is a stark change from middle school and junior varsity. McNeel thought that this change was a challenge.

          “It’s harder because of the drill’s intensity, and the players and competition is better,” said McNeel.

        On the other hand, Bailey thought that the biggest change was the time committed to volleyball.

         “The biggest difference between junior varsity and varsity is probably the overall commitment,” said Bailey. “When you add up the hours watching film and engaging in classroom sessions, it is clear why the varsity team manages to play at the level that it does.”

        The Cats have really been coming together as a team, and their friendship has only grown from the start of the season.

        “We put in 100% effort and prioritize the team, which has made all of us grow together and play as a cohesive unit,” said Bailey. “The bond among teammates is stronger because of all the time we invest in each other.”

        Even though the volleyball team has gotten off to a slow start, there is no reason to worry.

         “We have a lot of talent, we have a lot of athleticism, and we have different players who bring different things to the table,” said Mackey. “I think we have a lot of potential, we just have to find it. Hopefully when we find the right blend of people to go in at the same time, things will start to fall into place.”

          With all of the talented additions to the team, the VolleyCats could be in for something special this year and potentially in years to come.

         “We’re always going to get better as a team, we’re always going to go upward,” said McNeel. “We have a passion and intensity for the game, and it’s going to drive us forward this year and the seasons after that.”