By: Alex Kinzer ’16
This weekend was the W&L Invitational Tournament! There were five strong teams in the tournament – W&L (of course!), Meredith College, Southern Virginia University, Otterbein University, and Christopher Newport University. Two of the teams, Otterbein and CNU, came into the weekend ranked in the Top 20 teams in Division III. We worked hard in practice all week to keep improving from our great weekend in Tennessee. We killed our two team lifts, watched video, and made sure that we all “recovered hard” (which is our team’s catch phrase to remind us that every second outside of the gym impacts our performance inside the gym).
We all felt good coming into the weekend. We were well rested, we had a lot of energy and confidence, and we knew we would have our families and friends there to cheer us on. Our warm up before we played Otterbein was solid and helped us get the jitters out. We had improved, and it showed.
The weekend started with a loss to Otterbein in three. We bounced back and showed good mental and emotional toughness and beat both Meredith and SVU in three set matches Friday night and Saturday morning, but then were frustrated again when the weekend ended with a four set loss to CNU Saturday afternoon.
Even though we went 2-2, I see a lot of positives coming out of the weekend. The two wins showed mental and emotional control because we played consistently against both teams, treating them as if they were our strongest opponents. The team is looking at this as a learning and growth opportunity. We saw our system perform really well at some points (specifically the first set of the CNU match), and we saw points where we just didn’t execute it. There were also a lot of times where we did execute and battle but things just didn’t go our way. We see this as an opportunity to measure ourselves against other elite opponents and see where we are. Maybe, this weekend, we weren’t quite “there” yet. But I saw nothing that said that we couldn’t be. In fact, there were a lot of things that told me that not only will we get there, but that we’ll get there soon. Our freshmen are playing awesome and are improving rapidly. Our returners have built the fundamental skills and are continuing to push forward. Our seniors are leading well – one of our outside hitters Mash was named to the all-tournament team AND moved into seventh place all time in digs for the program this weekend! The system the coaches have designed is intelligent and will be successful against other elite teams. Our team culture is phenomenal – everyone is committed to improving both themselves and the program and is looking forward to getting back in the gym today. We’re taking this weekend, both the good things and the disappointing things, and looking forward. We start our ODAC matches this week, and we’re going to take care of business this Friday with Randolph-Macon, 7:00 at home, and we play CNU again in the beginning of November, at their home court.
Maybe we aren’t there yet, but give us just a little more time. We will be.
In our next look at W&L volleyball “The Season”, we follow junior defensive specialist Kelly McManus with video cameras for a inside look at a day in the life of a W&L volleyball player.