As girls varsity volleyball nears the end of its season with a record of 12-4, Abby Vulich ’17 and Rhiannon Schueunemann ’17 recognize the hard work and dedication it will take for their team to make it to state this season.
“Going into regionals and sectionals, one thing we have to keep in mind is that since every team is so good, we have to first find their weaknesses and work around that,” Vulich said.
In order for the team to place in the state finals, starting Nov. 11, they first have to win their regional tournament, starting on Oct. 25, and sectional competition, starting on Nov. 1, head coach Joann Pyritz said.
“We are trying to play as hard as we can and win as many games as we can between now and when that sectional is seeded,” Pyritz said. “We want to achieve a top four seed in the sectionals so that we have a better chance of advancing past regionals.”
The team has been utilizing their large team of 15 players to scrimmage at practice and simulate actual games, Vulich said. This also improves the team’s ability to communicate and work together.
Basic skill work and defensive lineup have also been a big focus this season, Pyritz said.
“Every year brings something different and you have to, as a coach, take a look at your personnel and make adjustments accordingly,” Pyritz said. “You can’t do things the same way every single year.”
After placing second in state in 2009 and winning state in 2010, the team knows that with a lot of preperation, the state title is within their grasp.
“We’ve certainly won our hand at regional and sectional championships,” Pyritz said. “It’s just that getting past the next step, and making state is really a tall task that requires lots of hard work and perseverance.”
By overcoming such challenges as losing much of their starting lineup from last season and failing to effectively communicate on the court, the team has been able to improve its overall dynamic, Schueunemann said.
“We’ve been working a lot on communication,” Schueunemann said. “We learned from last year that good communication really helps with how we perform overall. We’ve been able to work together, become closer and really improve our communication on and off the court.”
One aspect the team is still improving on is its consistency in all aspects of the game, especially defense, Pyritz said.
“Our height is a big part of what we’ve been working with this year,” Schueunemann said. “A lot of our defensive strategy is working around our block, and we’ve had to learn how to play without a lot of height in that block.”
As the team continues to work hard in preparation for the end of the season, they plan on going into every game confident, but not cocky, Vulich said.
“We don’t think that we are automatically going to win, because if we do, we won’t play to our full ability,” Schueunemann said.