A string of recent victories has the Pointer volleyball team working harder than ever to continue its success.
“This season was different in the face that we had to learn how to handle the success we experienced last year and build the right energy,” said head coach Abbey Sutherland.
The success of last season was challenging to adjust to.
“At the beginning of the year we were a bit tense on the court,” sophomore Tiffany Stargardt said. “We have to take it one game at a time, one point at a time and play like we have nothing to lose.”
The team is happy to have the challenge and is thriving under the pressure.
“It’s rewarding to see us go through this problem,” Sutherland said. “It’s been a challenging year, and we’re just plugging away.”
Stargardt is new to the team this year and happy with her choice to play here. The support she feels and the depth of skill is enormous.
“When someone is having a tough day we have a deep bench, and someone can come off and play,” Stargardt said. “We’re all so interchangeable. If you have an off day someone can come in and play for you and do the job.”
Sutherland enjoys seeing the positive team bonding that goes along with a thick bench.
“It’s really positive to see the team bonding,” Sutherland said. “Everyone, even nonstarters, play really important roles and it’s awesome to see people still competing for spots.”
Stargardt notices the team getting better every day, and she works just as hard right beside them.
“There are new drills every day in practice, and I try to focus on what coach tells me to get better,” Stargardt said. “I strive to improve every day and every match.”
The Pointers experienced a few tough losses this season, but Stargardt sees them in a positive light.
“We bounce back and use our losses as a way to help us get stronger and win the next match,” Stargardt said.
One goal is the conference title, but Sutherland does not want that to cloud the team’s vision.
“We have got to focus on the day to day stuff,” Sutherland said. “Taking care of business in conference would be great, but we can’t rely on other teams to do it for us.”
The Pointers are currently in second place behind UW-Whitewater.
Oct. 17 UWSP defeated Millikin University and Trinity University from Texas. Both teams were tough, out of region teams and the Pointers used them as preparation for the remainder of their difficult schedule.
“Whitewater will be a good conference match up, but every match is going to be good,” Stargardt said. “Every team changes from game to game. We can’t base how you’re going to do off of how other teams play each other.”
Last season, the Pointers finished fourth in the nation, and they want to make a national appearance again this year.
“There are high expectations from last year, but we have to live in this year,” Stargardt said. “The ultimate goal is to get there and we work hard in practice and matches each week to achieve that goal. Every match on the court or on the bench everyone is cheering their heart out.”
In a recent match against UW-La Crosse she saw some improvement.
“We gave ourselves more opportunities to do good things. We need to make the other team make the errors,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland is excited to see different people stepping up and performing well. She also sees a few players standing out.
“Alexis Hartman runs a really balanced offense. She finds a good situation for a kill and avoids being predictable,” Sutherland said. “Emma Brunkhorst has been really good with kills and blocks and overall I’m really happy with defensive specialists. They’ve been getting digs in clutch situations and have solid ball control.”
Stargardt also praised Hartman and said that even after only know her for a year, she will miss her next season.
“We appreciate everything she does,” Stargardt said. “Her actions kind of go unnoticed since she doesn’t really get kills or digs, but team can’t function without her. I love having her on the court every day. She’s a big role model.”