Last season, the Clan volleyball saw marked improvement, posting a 6-12 record in the GNAC. Although it wasn’t a winning record, it certainly beat the previous two seasons which had just one win each.
Now, they must look to improve on that record with the help of head coach Gina Schmidt, now in her second year. Schmidt was brought in to right the ship after three seasons with only six conference wins.
This task should be made easier by the fact that the majority of team is returning this season, as opposed to the high amount of turnover in some years.
“Being able to have a similar core group of players from one season to the next will be huge.”
“We do have a lot of returners, so that’s helped definitely in some respects as we have a lot of veterans on the team, [. . .] so we’re going to rely on their experience for sure,” Schmidt said.
She elaborated, explaining the significance of returners in certain positions, “Previous to this season, some of our older players have had a different setter every year. This is the first time they have had the same setter for two consecutive seasons and that’s kind of like having a quarterback that changes every year.
“That continuity, being able to have a similar core group of players from one season to the next will be huge. There’s a lot of team chemistry in volleyball, so the more you can get that team to be cohesive in the court, [. . .] that’s all going to definitely help.”
One of the areas that Schmidt believes the team needs to work on is offense. She explained, “We’ve spent a big part of our spring training increasing our offensive efficiency, so just creating more kills for ourselves, reducing our errors, and increasing our team hitting percentage.
“On the defensive side of the ball [we are working on] trying to control more digs which allow us to create more kills [. . .] out of our defense.”
In a GNAC coaches poll, the Clan were picked to finish seventh in the conference (out of ten), matching the place they achieved last season. For good or bad, this is by no means a given — the Clan could certainly move in either direction, whether up or down.
The volleyball team has an opportunity to take that next step, continuing their progress from a struggling team to a true contender. Whether they take that next step has yet to be seen, but the ball is in their court.
The Clan play their first home game against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats on Thursday, September 4 at 7 p.m.