The Missouri Western volleyball team opened their 2009 season at the Springhill Suites Invitational Tournament last weekend in Sioux Falls, S.D. They played four sets last weekend against eighth ranked Southwest Minnesota State, Regis University, Chadron State and the host team, 22nd ranked Augustana. The Griffons lost to Southwest Minnesota State 3-1, Regis 3-0 and Augustana 3-1, but beat Chadron State 3-0.
While only winning one game, the outlook for the team isn’t bleak, but actually quite good. The Griffons played two teams who were ranked in the top 25 of the preseason poll, and managed to take games from both teams (one of which went 4-0) and keeping the other games relatively close.
When asked about team chemistry and what their major problems were, head coach Cory Frederick was very positive.
“Team chemistry is a lot better than past years,” Frederick said. “They are working well together as a team and are getting along, which is good to see. There are a few systematic approaches that we need to clean up, but those should go away with a little court time to know where each other on the court. The players are willing to support one another; we just need to get a little bit better with our volleyball positioning on the court.”
The Griffons moved into a 5-1 volleyball formation this year (five attackers, one setter), which is the most common formation in high-level play.
“The 5-1 formation allows more movement and really spreads the block out on the sides,” Frederick said. “It also give us more consistency.”
“The tournament was very up and down,” Frederick said. “It could have been better. At moments we played very well, and other moments we just struggled and made strings of mistakes. There are many bright spots we can work on as the season progresses; we just have to learn to be more consistent,”
So while the Lady Griffons are not perfect this year, they are better. Their play lies solely on the time it takes for them to acclimate to their new strategy, and new coaching. It will be a growing year in more ways than one.
“It will be a good season for everyone to come and watch this year,” senior middle blocker Allison Smith said. “People don’t expect us to be as good as we are this year.”
The first Griffon home game is Sept. 16 against the Fort Hays State Tigers.