William Jewell College’s volleyball team is in a “rebuilding” stage this season. The team is bouncing back from its last season while adjusting to a new coach.
“It is our third new coach, so there has been a lot of adapting to different coaching styles. As the player and for the coach we have to adapt to each other. Our assistant coach always says ‘Improvise, adapt, and overcome.’ That’s been engraved and something we really take to heart. We always do the best we can, and one thing we’ve learned is to just go out there and do what you can,” Kaylee Marquardt, junior, said.
This new coach is Carolyn Raynes from Lawrence, KS and is an alumni of Washburn University.
“I played and graduated from Washburn University, another Division II school. After that, I coached in high school for a couple years and then I was at Tarleton State University in Texas, which is a Division II school as well. Being able to come back towards home and to a place where I’ve heard great things was super exciting to me. Being able to take this position was super exciting,” Raynes said.
Raynes and the team have put together a list of goals for the season, which are currently printed out and hanging above Raynes’s desk. Of all the goals, making the postseason conference is at the forefront.
The volleyball team is also welcoming a lot of first-year women to the team. Almost half the team is new: eight first-year players and 10 returning players, three of which are seniors. However, Libby Ording, senior, thinks this big adjustment will not hurt the team.
“We want to compete and we want to improve from our season from last year and the beginning of our season this year. I think that, individually, I’ve noticed our goals are shifted to the future, whereas if we had an older team it would be improving little things and building on what we’ve already got. But now we see our freshmen and we want to build skills they’ll need for the next four years,” Ording said.
With half the team straight out of high school and adjusting to the college game, this could put some stress on their schoolwork. Raynes is aware of this and is trying to accommodate these first-year players in all aspects of their college experience.
“When we start traveling more is when classes start. So we’ve been trying to maintain as best we can that balance [between school and volleyball]. They need to get enough sleep at night and find time to do their academics. I feel like that’s more of a transition than the volleyball side of it.”
While some of the team’s strengths are on the court, many of them are off as well.
“I would say defense is our strong suit. Our defense is solid. I think another strength is we are all really passionate about this season. I think part of that is that people from last year remember the last season and the other half are those eight girls who don’t know about last year and they bring in that fresh mindset of “we can do it.” I think the passion is really a strength of ours,” Ording said.
However, there is still much to improve on if they want to make their goal of going to the postseason conference tournament.
“I think for us it’s a matter of finishing when it gets close in a game. We’ve had quite a few games so far this year where we haven’t been able to put the last couple of points together to get a win. And I think that’s a mental thing for us. The talent is there; it’s just a matter of playing to win the game instead of worrying about losing,” Raynes said.
The team plays against the University of Indianapolis tomorrow at 5:00 pm in the Mabee Center.