Parkland Volleyball bounce back after tournament
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 17:09
As the season began, the Lady Cobras volleyball team took their talents to a tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, where they finished with a record of 2-2.
It was a tough tournament to say the least, as the Lady Cobras fell to Iowa Central in three sets: 25-20, 25-19, 25-20 and lost a four match series to Kirkwood, winning the first set 22-25 and then going on to lose 25-19, 25-16 and 25-22.
In response to the tough start to the season, Head Coach Cliff Hastings stated, “Between the girls on the team and myself as a coach, starting 0-2 was pretty unique for all of us. The girls all come from very successful high school and club programs where losing is not the norm.“
Hastings was not disheartened, though, saying, “But sometimes in life, one needs to experience getting knocked down so one learns how to get up and move on from it. The sophomores and I met on Friday night to discuss specific things they could do better on Saturday to modify some of the problems that we identified from Friday.”
“This sophomore group carries themselves with such great leadership and introspection that they were able to not only identify those things to improve, but they worked hard to ensure they were carried out on Saturday,” he elaborated. “I was very impressed with their maturity as players and people to do that for our team.”
Freshmen setter Jordan Wooden replied, “I didn’t take it well, and neither did the team. It was a real eye opener, and we didn’t like that feeling at all.”
“After our first two losses, we realized we needed to come together as a team. The next day we came out ready and knew what we needed to do in order to win,” sophomore outside hitter Jessica Galotta explained.
This tough start would not fault the Lady Cobras though. They would go on to finish the tournament on a good note, winning the next two games.
The first was a three set sweep of Southeast Iowa, in which the Cobras won 25-15, 25-14, 25-10. Next up was a thriller in five sets against Kansas City, in which they won the second, third and fifth sets 25-18, 25-20 and 15-11.
Concerning the big win against Kansas City, Hastings said, “KCKCC had gone 3-0 in the tournament, defeating the two teams that had beaten us already.”
“They were a big team and a formidable presence at the net,” he continued. “We aren’t quite as big as they are, but we have outstanding speed in the front row coupled with great setting and defense in the back row. Our blockers were able to neutralize their offense and utilize our key strengths to beat them.”
Hastings summed up the day, saying, “I’m not sure one ever should be completely satisfied with a 2-2 start to the season, especially with the strength of the Parkland volleyball program, but that was a good win for us and a great way to show our fortitude to ourselves that first weekend.”
Galotta remarked, “It was an awesome game with great competition. Those are the games we live for, they’re the most fun.”
With a new atmosphere and with as many freshmen as the Lady Cobras have on the team, there are questions of how they will react to a new landscape. Some question how nervous they will be once game time starts and how they will do playing against higher levels of competition.
This does not seem to bother any of the freshmen on the team, as most of them either start or receive a great amount of playing time.
This is crucial for any team, because the more help you get, the better your chances to win games. It just so happens that the help the Lady Cobras are getting are coming from newcomers.
“The freshmen as a whole are doing very well. This is a large group of freshmen, and they have worked very hard in the early going of this season to improve individual elements of their games which will translate to big advances in our team game,” Hastings explained.
“Even though they are freshmen, these girls have been playing volleyball for a long time so the game itself isn’t the challenge for them,” he continued. “The key challenge is the speed of the college game coupled with the challenges that being a first-year student at college brings.”
Freshmen outside hitter, Alexis Clemons, replied, “I think the freshmen are adjusting well with everything even if we are a young team. I think we’re doing pretty good and gaining a lot of experience. The first game was a little shaky with nerves and everything bit its expected from freshmen. It was our first college game.”
Galotta said, “The freshmen were nervous but after a few plays they lost the nerves and started to play great. They are adjusting well. The freshmen have basically all played together before so I think that helps.”
Gaining strides into their first college season is a very important factor to playing well. It not only helps with experience, but confidence as well.
Then came August 28, where the seventh ranked Lady Cobras opened up their home schedule to the sixteenth ranked Kankakee Community College Cavaliers. Winning in straight sets, 25-11, 25-18 and 25-13, the Lady Cobras looked stronger than ever.
Led by Clemons eleven kills, the Lady Cobras continued a long winning streak at home, stretching nearly two years since their last loss at Dodds Athletic Center and stretching their current winning streak to three games. A great win going into another tough tournament Labor Day weekend.
Hastings commented on the win, “It’s been a couple of years since we’ve lost at home. So, selfishly, I’m never going to be disappointed to see ‘at Parkland’ on the schedule.”
“Kankakee is a top 20 team so any time you can go home and say that you felt in control of a match against a top 20 team is a very good feeling,” he concluded.