Photo by Jennifer Biberston
Leila Holt goes airborne to set the ball toward her teammate at a scrimmage Aug. 16
As of Tuesday, August 21, 2018
MONMOUTH — Coming off a rough season last year, the Wolves volleyball team is already shaping up to be in a better spot now than they were throughout last year.
“I think the big thing is, we definitely feel a lot more refreshed and a lot healthier than we did this time last year,” said head coach Tommy Gott. “It’s a little bit by design: we’re trying to make sure we’re aware of our bodies.”
Injuries were prevalent last year, which sidelined all of the middle hitters, forcing women unfamiliar with that position to fill in.
The team atmosphere this year is better, too, Gott said.
“The cohesion, it feels better all the way around right now than it did last year,” he said.
Thursday, the Wolves played in a scrimmage against Oregon Institute of Technology, giving the Wolves an idea of where they’re at as a team.
“I think it went very well. A good step in the water,” said senior setter Leila Holt. “Our season is just gonna keep getting harder, and teams are just gonna keep getting better and better. The teams we’re going up against are going to be a lot tougher ... so I think it’s a very good start.”
Preseason began a week and a half ago, which mean the girls have had that long to get to know one another and learn how to play with each other.
“It’s been really awesome to see how we’ve been able to improve in so many different areas so fast and so early too, and it hasn’t been easy,” senior opposite hitter Mariella Vandenkooy said.
The Wolves added in five new players this season, four freshmen and one transfer.
Additionally, “we lost two seniors, and they were a big, big part last year’s program,” Gott said, “but I think all of our upperclassman have done a good job progressing through their growth, through their leadership, through their development, and I think they’ve done a good job taking that transition to being able to lead those five newcomers and letting them know how we operate within the program and the standards that we’re setting.”
GNAC play begins Sept. 4, where the Wolves will host Concordia University at 7 p.m.