Volleyball Team Satisfied with Season’s Turnout, Seek Improvements

Cassie Scott cscot852@uwsp.edu

After 24 consecutive wins, the women’s volleyball season has come to a close after being defeated by Cal Lutheran on Friday, Nov. 22 at the DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, Michigan.

Their hot streak ended in the National Semi-Final tournament placing them 4th in the nation. This season was the team’s deepest run in program history during the NCAA tournament.

“Our goal was to take every match one point at a time, then we just started rolling,” said Head Coach Abbey Sutherland. “After the loss, everyone was disappointed but proud. We held our heads high.”

The girls had every reason to hold their heads high, as their team was ranked 19th going into the tournament. The team previously won their regular season championship allowing them to host the conference tournament, where they took first and were granted an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

The only senior on the team, Allison Davis, was unsure of how the season would end and admits she was concerned about having a first year coach and the youth of the team.

“I did not know what to expect at the beginning of the year,” Davis said. “All of the freshmen are so talented beyond measures and everyone gets along so well. We meshed together as a family and took the season much farther than I expected,” Davis said. Davis confessed that as the team started to win on a regular basis they gained confidence and believed in themselves and their abilities.

Junior setter Alexis Hartman, was excited and impressed on how well the team did this year. She stated that the girls got along really well on and off the court and their close relationships allowed them to play well together and contributed to their success.“I think that this year has been the most fun and cohesive group of girls I have ever played with. Everyone brings their own personality to the table and has their own special role. These girls are the reason I had such a fun time this season,” Hartman said.

Davis and Hartman aren’t the only ones awestruck by the amazing season. Their coaches are just as enthusiastic.

“This whole experience has been surreal,” Sutherland said. “The neatest thing I’ve seen from this group is progress. We improved a lot and as a whole team, we believed in something bigger.”

By believing, the team was able to achieve their hopes of entering the national tournament, even with this being Sutherland’s first year coaching for the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point.

She spent nine years coaching volleyball at the University of Southern Miss., but decided to come closer to her hometown of West Bend, Wis.

“I was really close with the players at Southern Miss. it was hard to leave, but there are great groups of players everywhere,” Sutherland said.

Blessed with a talented bunch, both Sutherland and assistant coach Amber Dunn were satisfied with how their season ended.

They also noted that it is every coach’s goal to push their team to get to the national tournament, but seasons, much like the one they just had, don’t always happen.

“Each player has put in a great deal of hard work and a lot of time. In this case it has paid off and was an opportunity of a lifetime,” Dunn said.

With much success, the coaches, as well as the players, are ready to work hard during the off-season to increase their chances of being victorious during the 2014 season.

During the Spring semester, coaches are allowed to work with their athletes for 16 practices during the course of five weeks.

Sutherland explained that she uses that time to work more individually with her players in an effort to improve techniques and individual control.

Davis said the success of the season was a great way to end her senior year.

“The team I got to spend my senior year with made my last year competing even more enjoyable,” Davis said. “They have such big hearts, they are full of laughter, great talent and competitive spirits that I hope takes them even farther next year. I could not have had such a great senior season without them, coaches and athletic trainers included.”

As for Hartman, she knows she has work to be done and improvements to make.

“During the off season there are always things that can be worked on,” Hartman said. “I always want to try to get faster so that I can get to those balls that I normally can’t. I also want to continue working on connecting with my hitters and being consistent.”

As the players will work on improving their individual skills, the coaches will oversee, motivate and encourage them all that they can.

“We need to take it one day at a time, work hard in the off season, get into the gym and work hard in the spring season, spend the summer staying in shape and preparing for a long four months come mid-August,” Dunn said. “There are so many good things to come with this team, the future is very bright.”

“We set the bar high and have pretty big goals, but I’m not putting too much pressure on us. Just like this past season, we have to take everything one step at a time, especially since we will have a target on our backs,” Sutherland said.

The women’s volleyball team has high hopes for next season. In order to be successful, they will have to work for it. 

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