A lot of travel is hard on any team, but a young team without much experience can struggle to find success. That’s the case for the AU’s volleyball team. The lady Ravens are 5-10 in the early part of their season.
“The month of September in the world of volleyball is difficult on all players, freshmen through seniors alike,” said head coach Tami Miller. “The good news is that we have a great coaching staff that is willing to work with us, but it definitely wears on you.”
The season began with the Ravens traveling to the Illinois College Tournament in Jacksonville, Illinois, nearly a four-and-a-half-hour bus ride from AU.
“Going into opening weekend, we had hopes of going 3-1 or 2-2,” said Miller. “Coming away 1-3 was definitely not the start we’d hoped for.”
Miller was also disappointed that her squad could not get a win at the Franklin College Tournament the following weekend.
Things began to turn around at the #MarissaStrong Tournament in Galesburg, Illinois, another four-and-a-half-hour bus ride. The team went 3-1, beating some quality opponents along the way.
“Our weekend going 3-1 was a great confidence boost,” added Miller. “We certainly needed some wins continuing into the rest of the season.”
The team is still in high spirits, despite the grueling travel schedule and early losses.
“I think playing so far away from home definitely poses challenges as far as staying energized after a four-hour bus ride,” said junior right-side hitter Abby White. “Not having the fan base there to provide extra excitement is hard, too. It’s been tough, but it’s been good to see different teams from different areas and get that experience.”
Even without winning as many games as they would’ve hoped, the players have stayed positive in their approach to the rest of the season.
“The girls themselves are awesome,” said Miller. “When you look at where we were sitting, they have never given up. They have a relentless fight and they are not going to settle with being unsuccessful.”
The Ravens are a good team, but they still have some work to do if they want to become a top-six team in conference again.
“I think that we have a lot of talent that can be utilized,” added White. “Sometimes we get frustrated when we’re not connecting with each other or when things are not going as planned.”
The Ravens are young, but they have plenty of talent to compete with the best teams. Last year they capitalized off of a strong conference season to propel them into the HCAC tournament. They look to repeat and even improve from last year’s success.