Cobra volleyball hopes to continue last season’s success
How does a team improve upon perfection, following an undefeated season and national championship victory?
Such is the paradox facing Parkland’s volleyball for the coming season.
In the fall 2015 semester, the team went 57-0 and won the NJCAA championship in Phoenix on Nov. 21.
Rod Lovett, director of Parkland’s athletics, feels that the 2015 team “was a talented group that was driven by the fact they had come up just short by finishing second in both 2013 and 2014.”
Coach Cliff Hastings says his favorite memory of the 2015 season, was seeing the team develop their camaraderie and push each other to strengthen their skills.
“It was the single closest-knit team I’ve coached,” he said. “That was really fun to be part of.”
Hastings remembers the 2015 team as a particularly hard-working and tenacious group.
“The 2015 team didn’t lack for any confidence or fight to ensure success day-in and day-out,” he said.
Hastings says last season’s team has similarities and differences to the group that is currently preparing for the coming trials of 2016’s tourney, although he says it is too early in the season to accurately compare performance differences between the teams.
He says the returning sophomores have begun to reclaim the roles they filled last season, whilst the new freshman players work to take their places within the team.
“It is fun […] to watch the returning sophomores start to define their new emotional [and] physical roles this year,” Hasting says. “They had a certain role set last year, and with a new year and new team, they are looking to redefine who they are on the court. It takes a while for them to do that. Concurrently, the incoming freshmen are coming off being the stars of their high school teams, and they’re trying to figure out how they fit into the puzzle, where to be a leader, where to be a follower, and where to just be them without worrying about anything else.”
“They’re starting to put the initial puzzle together, and I think they’re collectively doing a great job of figuring out how to get started together,” he says.
Last season’s championship title was Parkland volleyball’s second in its history. The team brought home the national victory in 1999.
Lovett points out that for any Parkland sports team, a perfect record isn’t what is important.
“Going undefeated is never the goal,” he said. “Winning the title is.”
However, the undefeated streak of last season was a nice bonus to their national victory.
Hastings says a few of the important matches of the 2016 season are on the weekend of Sept. 9-10 in Kirkwood, Iowa, as well as on Sept. 21 against Lincoln Land Community College and Oct. 5 versus Illinois Central College.
“[W]e’ll play against three likely top 10 teams in that one weekend which is always a test to see if we’re making great strides,” Hastings said. “[M]atch-ups with Lincoln Land and Illinois Central College are always fun and hotly contested matches that we look forward to each year.”
Cobra volleyball’s season schedule, as well as the schedules for Parkland’s other sports, can be found online at Parkland athletics’ web portal, parkland.edu/athletics.