The Western volleyball is set to face off against the undefeated University of Central Missouri Mules.
UCM has started this season winning 10 consecutive games and, with the exception of Minnesota State-Moorhead, they have defeated all other opponents 3-0.
“We treat each match the same,” UCM head coach, Philip Piontek, said. “We consider ourselves to be 0-0 every time we step on the court.”
Piontek has led UCM to two NCAA Regional championships and three straight MIAA titles from 2009-2011. He has recorded a 122-22 record and a 69-7 record in conference play, earning the best MIAA record over the past four seasons.
“I expect a great match with the same high level of effort and intensity I have come to expect from the Griffons every time we compete,” Piontek said.
Last season, they ended with an impressive 26-7 record. They beat Missouri Western 3-0.
“They’re a very strong program,” head coach Marian Carbin said. “They’ll have some big offensive weapons that we’ll have to counteract with our defense and our blocking scheme.”
Julia Bates is a senior setter for UCM. She is a three time MIAA Scholar Athlete, and has been on the All-MIAA First team, as well as All MIAA Second team. This season, she has 42 kills, 340 assists and 63 digs.
Carbin said that Bates is a threat offensively and that UCM is not going to give up a lot points.
“They have played some strong programs, but you can’t be intimidated. You just got to go run your game plan and have faith that your team is as good as you think it is and that they’re capable of winning every time you step on the court,” said Carbin.
Carbin also said that improvements that the team is working on right now are mental toughness and being steady.
“We’re definitely improving by coming together as a team. It’s not individual players, we’re all one cohesive group now,” junior setter, Kelly Scannell, said.
Scannell said that with their improvements, they are definitely ready for UCM.
“We’ll put up a fight against whoever we’re facing,” Scannell added.
Scannell and freshman Kelsey Olion agreed that the team is ready.
“I think we’re all improving by getting stronger in the weight room and implementing certain ab-workouts into our blocking,” Olion said.
As a freshman, Olion feels extra prepared for the competitiveness that will come from UCM.
“I kind of have an advantage as a freshman, where I don’t really know too much about how [UCM] did last year against the team. I go in against a faceless opponent expecting to win with nothing psyching me out in my head,” Olion added.
The Griffons are set to face the Mules of UCM on Friday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in Warrensburg, MO.