November 14, 2003

Volleyball falls at UAA tourney

The volleyball team will have to wait until next year, bowing out of the UAA Conference Championships last weekend in the minimum four matches.

Last Friday the team lost in three games against conference champions Washington University and Carnegie-Mellon. The Maroons went on to lose a close match in five games against the University of Rochester before dropping a last place match to Case Western Reserve in bracket play.

"The team was physically exhausted by the end of the first day, and it led to a number of mental lapses. Particularly draining was the match with Rochester, which lasted two and a half hours. After playing two tough matches already that day, we were pretty drained by the end," said coach Dorinda von Tersch.

Second-year team captain Erica Pettke commented that the team took the losses pretty hard.

"It was a tough weekend physically, but every team is going through the same schedule, and when it comes down to it the team that is mentally tough and mature enough is going to be the champion," Pettke said. "We had definite goals for this weekend, and they weren't realized."

The team finished with a 7-29 record, going 1-10 against UAA teams and finishing tied for seventh in the UAA with the University of Rochester, statistics von Tersch described as misleading.

"We were really a better team than our record shows. We did great things offensively, and our overall game was much better than it has been in previous seasons," she said. "Last year our problem was our level of game; this year, it was playing at that level on a consistent basis."

For next season, the team plans to focus on developing their mental toughness, which led to the inconsistency that dogged the Maroons all season.

"We're going to be looking at what we're thinking about during play. What are you focusing on right before the serve? How are you analyzing your own performance after the play? Are you thinking positively and constructively? Are you being analytical or emotional?" von Tersch said. "We want to make sure we're not distracting ourselves. If we can do this, we're going to be able to play quality, mistake-free volleyball."

According to Pettke there will likely be an increase in the intensity of spring workouts, but the team will not be fazed.

"We want to get everything out of the off-season that we can," she said.

The team's prospects for the next few seasons look bright. The Maroons are dominated by second-years, and all ten players on the roster will return next fall. Next year's squad will have a number of players who have been starters for three years, giving them knowledge of the league and a good deal of game experience.

"We're going to surprise some people next year," said von Tersch, citing the Washington University match at the conference championships.

"That was huge for us. Everyone was focused and executed well. The team had a great sense of what they could do, both physically and mentally. We played a team that's going to contend for a national title extremely close, and they're going to lose a bunch of their kids. All I could think was, we've got two more years with these players, and we're not shying away from one of the best in the country."

"You talk to these girls, and they're looking to go to the NCAA tournament their fourth year."

Second-years Emma Hamilton, Tracie Kenyon and Katie Meinhover made honorable mention for the All-UAA Team. All three finished as statistical leaders in the league. Hamilton led in blocks per game, Kenyon in digs per game, and Meinhover in kills per game.