The Maroon

Volleyball team picks up pace

Team members begin to gain confidence on the court after win

Chemistry and history sophomore Sabrina Stansberry jumps for a return during Loyola’s first home game against Millsaps College on Tuesday, Sept. 12 in the Den.

Elizabeth Kunzig/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Chemistry and history sophomore Sabrina Stansberry jumps for a return during Loyola’s first home game against Millsaps College on Tuesday, Sept. 12 in the Den.

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Five games into the 2011 season, this much is true: all the necessary pieces are there. What remains unclear for the Wolfpack volleyball team is if they can solve the puzzle.

Figuring it out shouldn’t be difficult, considering the pieces are the same, which means Tommy Harold has already seen how the puzzle comes together.

But it hasn’t been particularly easy either. Judging by the Wolfpack’s 3-2 early record, they’re a work in progress. Harold acknowledges the situation at hand. It doesn’t, however, mean he’s concerned.

“Our two losses are in five games by a total of four points,” Harold said. “We’re there. We’re four points away from being 5-0. At the same time we just have to find out a way to close out those close games. We did that in the game against Millsaps so hopefully we can build from there.”

The territory is all too familiar for Harold and the Wolfpack. Prior to conference play last year, the Wolfpack stumbled out early as well. Five wins in 10 total games left them in a much worse predicament — albeit a few more games played.

Despite the slow start, the Wolfpack regained composure at the start of conference play, finishing out the rest of the season on a 20-9 run. Harold expects his team to turn things around — like last year — in identical fashion. And it begins Friday, Sept. 16 with conference opponent Lee University.

“I see some good things coming for us. Things are starting to click,” Harold said. “We’re starting to make connections with our setters and our hitters between the defense and the offense, and as that progresses with time, there is nowhere to go but up.”

You can certainly say the Wolfpack took a step upward when they defeated Millsaps College Tuesday, Sept. 13. Before that victory, Loyola posted two consecutive down-to-the-wire losses to Trinity University and University of Wisconsin Platteville. Tuesday, too, came down to the last few plays. But this time, Loyola grouped together sealing the victory.

Sabrina Stansberry, history sophomore, attributes the difference this time to team chemistry.

“We’re definitely coming into our own,” she said. “There are six people on the court, and you can’t play by yourself. The more we play together, the more we learn our teammates, the more we help each other and play for each other, the better we’ll become.”

In matches, remembering the basics they learned in practice has made all the difference in the three victories this year, said Gina Gill, psychology senior.

“Stick to the fundamentals, stick to what Coach Tommy teaches us and get it done,” Gill said.

Harold said he notices the confidence growing in his players and said he sees that carrying over into conference play. He said he is not assured the confidence will positively factor in the outcome of the games to come, but Stansberry said being confident couldn’t hurt.

“Going into conference with a win over an NCAA opponent, being more aggressive and playing well is great for us,” she said. “It’s just what we need.”

Craig Malveaux can be reached at [email protected]

 

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