September 7, 2007

Volleyball Begins Season With New Look

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This weekend, you could witness the dawning of a new era for the women’s volleyball team. Starting this afternoon, the new and improved Red will be hosting the Cornell Invitational and competing against Bucknell, Siena, Montreal and Niagara at Newman Arena to mark the start of its regular season.
“I do think it’s a good tournament for us to start,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “The teams are right in the middle of where we are. It should be a good level of competition for us.”
It’s been a lengthy, but necessary preseason for a team carrying only nine returning players and seven new ones. The Red has been working hard to incorporate its newest members and getting acclimated to everyone’s style of play. In addition to some of the players lacking college game experience, the entire squad is working diligently to learn a new offensive system.
“It’s been tough to learn a new system but it’s all been fun,” said senior captain Amy Gordon. “Since all of us are learning something new, it helps the freshmen not feel so alone since we are all freshmen, kind of. So, in that sense, it’s really good for the morale of the team, and I think we are all doing a really good job with it.”
When the team takes the court for the first time this afternoon against Niagara, freshmen will be an important part of the starting line up. Collins-Parker is confident, but realistic, about her young team. The hard work the girls have put in this summer has been evident in practice and the coaching staff is anxious to see how each girl performs.
“We are just looking to see how our freshmen are going to fare and where they are in terms of where we need to be,” Collins-Parker said. “That’s the biggest question mark because everybody in their position has not played [in college] before, including our returning outside, [sophomore] Katelyn Fitzpatrick, who broke her arm last year so she played in one game. So we have no one with experience in that position.”
In spite of all the unknowns, the Red knows that in order to win all four games it must rely on fundamentals. Gordon stressed the importance of communication on a team just getting too know each other. Furthermore, leadership from the returning upperclassmen will be an important factor in how well everyone meshes in the heat of competition.
“In volleyball there are six of us on a small court and we have to figure out how well we play together,” Gordon said. “We just need to figure out how to better each other on the court and the key to that is being good communicators.”
With all of that in mind, the outcome of the four games this weekend will set the tone for the start of the season. If the squad can perform up to its potential this weekend, it bodes well for the possibility of winning an eighth Ivy League title.
“After such a long preseason and all the work we did this summer, we just want to play games and win games,” Gordon said. “Even at the end of practice today everyone was a little jumpy. We’re just ready to go.”