As the volleyball team fights through Great Northwest Athletic Conference play, it will do so with limited numbers. The current roster sits at 12 players, with only 11 of them being healthy enough to play.
Junior outside hitter Jessica Miller was injured earlier in the year against Alaska Anchorage when she broke her finger. The Falcons (7-8, 3-4 in GNAC) don’t view it as a disadvantage.
“It puts extra stress on us to stay healthy, and it’s only a disadvantage if we make it a disadvantage,” senior middle blocker Nikki Lowell said. It’s just everyone being mindful of the issue and focusing on staying healthy.”
With fewer players on the roster, that provides more playing time and reps for the backups as well. The team believes that it is more cohesive now because of the smaller numbers. As a result, the players believe they are a closer-knit group. They are making the best of their roster and using it as an advantage. The roster is smaller than usual also because of some key injuries that popped up last spring.
“We [had] a couple people leave late last spring for health reasons, and it happened too late, so that we couldn’t replace them with recruits,” head coach Chris Johnson said.
The starters are also receiving more playing time simply because the depth isn’t there.
The coaches and players both realize that they need to be cautious and not push themselves too far. As the season wears on, precautions will need to be taken to ensure that the rest of the roster stays healthy. Extra off-days are a necessity, but the players are always prepared for a long season.
“We’re used to what we’re doing,” Johnson said. “We always want to try to find an off-day for our players here and there, but I don’t see any ill effects.”
The major advantage that comes from having only 12 players on the roster is unity.
“We have better chemistry than usual because of the smaller numbers,” Johnson said. “It allows us to get that many more reps on an individual basis, and everyone is touching the ball a little bit more than they usually would.”
The team is never looking to make excuses. They understand the situation that they’ve been put in this season, but they want to make the most of it.
“The sport is a full-time job. We have to really work hard to do well in our conference,” Lowell said.