Volleyball team shows promise for coming year

Once both nets are set up, the team goes through band stretches and a dynamic warm-up. The Quaker’s volleyball team clocks in for practice. They divide into hitters and passers, go through technique building drills and engage in a scrimmage at the end of each of their two and a half hour practices.

Compared to last season, this year’s team is showing promising signs of apparent improvement.

Following a season that had its fair share of growing pains, the volleyball team looks to veterans for leadership and to the incoming first-years to add their skills to the squad.

A notable difference from last season is the team’s size. The listed roster grew from 10 to 19 players. Losing just four seniors from last year’s squad, the team believes it has filled this void with the addition of many new faces.

Despite losing a team captain in Kelsey Ruehling  ‘16 to graduation, who led the team last season and led the Old Dominion Athletic Conference statistically with 0.63 service aces per set and stood seventh in the conference in kills with 271, sophomore outside hitter Jessica Benkendorf believes this year’s team has the talent to replace what was lost.

“We have really good raw talent,” said Benkendorf. “The first-years picked up the system, and everyone works well with each other.”

In preparation for the new season, intensity and chemistry look to be the forces that will drive the team’s success up or down.

Kelly Ammons, a first-year from Raleigh, is still adjusting to the level of intensity at the college level, yet guidance from the veterans on the team has facilitated the transition for her.

“I work out a lot more with Guilford, and I have gotten a lot closer with the girls here than I had ever been (with teammates) in high school,” said Ammons. “(The veterans) definitely help us with tips and teach us how things are supposed to be done. Some things are different than what I was told in high school, but my game has improved.”

The vitality of communication enhances a sport like volleyball. The off days in practice come when communication is poor, causing the team to struggle. Luckily for the Quakers, team chemistry is a strong suit they look to use against tougher conference opponents.

The Quakers match up with John Wesley University on Sept. 1 to open the season. The team will play in a double-header at home Sept. 17, where they will host Randolph-Macon College at 11 a.m. and Virginia Wesleyan College at 2 p.m. These two colleges finished first and second in the conference last season and will provide a big, early test for the Quakers.

The Quakers believe they have something to prove in these early season match-ups.“We conditioned hard all preseason, and we will be ready for these games,” said Benkendorf.

Between team chemistry, hard work and overall will to win, spirit looks to be one of the team’s greatest asset that will be on display for the course of the season.

If any Quaker fan is on campus when the team has a game scheduled, they should come and check out the team as they look forward to continued fan support this season.