The women’s volleyball team heads back to the court this year, determined to continue their success from last season.
“Coming off of the success from last year, it is important that we take things one day at a time, one game at a time, tackling what comes at us,” said head coach Abbey Sutherland.
2013 ended on a high note for the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. The Pointers collected 35 wins, totaling the most since 1985, including 24 straight matches. The team defeated three consecutive top six teams, but fell in national semifinals to the No. 3 ranked Cal Lutheran.
“This year I would like our team to carry over the same game mentality. Last year we did a really good job of going into each game with the determination to win and being aware that we need to continuously make adjustments to get better,” said senior captain Sarah Breuer.
Things are looking bright once again for the Pointers. The three-time defending conference champions were selected to claim the 2014 title by Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s head coaches and sports information directors.
“I really look forward to playing the teams we played in post-season last year because I know they will be bringing their best games and it will be a great challenge that we will learn a lot from,” fellow senior captain Alexis Hartman said.
The Pointers have six starters returning to the court this year and a recent National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III poll conducted by the American Volleyball Coaches Association ranked UWSP third in the nation.
Sutherland starts her second year as head coach this year and is excited to see the positive energy and enthusiasm from last season return.
“One of the biggest things that I wanted to see carry over to this season, they’ve already done” Sutherland said.” Motivation is high and their hard-working attitude is back”.
Sights are set on yet another NCAA appearance this year. This would be the fourth straight NCAA appearance for Pointers volleyball.
“I know that after finishing in the Final Four and experiencing the memories of the NCAA tournament we are more determined than ever to make it back to the Elite Eight and be the only team in Division III to win their final match,” Breuer said.
The battle for conference and beyond will be not be easy. The Pointers realize that dedication and hard work are all a part of a high achieving season.
“One thing that I really want to continue improving on is my defense so that I can pick up some of the small plays that could cost us a win in the tight games,” Hartman said.
Fortunately with so many returning starters, the team didn’t suffer any major losses.
“We lost one senior and it was a big loss both blocking and offensively. Now we have to find the go to hitters that we can search out in clutch situations,” Sutherland said.
There are a number of teams that have a bone to pick with the Pointers. They will be playing every team that they encountered on their NCAA run last year.
“I think that all teams will be tough this year since we have such a large target on our back that everyone will want to beat us,” Hartman said.
In both matches against Wartburg College last season, the Pointers came back from a two game deficit to win the match and take the victory.
“We realize that a lot of teams including Wartburg, St. Thomas and Saint Benedict’s are all going to be out to beat us this year but this team is prepared to take on the challenge. Every match is a battle to get another W,” Breuer said.
UWSP will make their first appearance at home by hosting the Pointers Invitational Tournament on Sept. 5 and 6.
“We’d really love to see a lot fans there supporting us. We want to show them what we can do and that we appreciate their support,” Sutherland said.