The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
With five victories in the last six games, team moves to fifth place
By , Staff Reporter
Published: October 24 2012
After a brutal loss to Montana State Billings on Sept. 22, Seattle Pacific’s volleyball team knew they would redeem their pride. They just didn’t know how much they would earn back. On Saturday, the Falcons earned their revenge and swept Billings 3-0 on their home court.
“We really had everyone on the court playing well the entire match, which was really good to see,” said volleyball head coach Chris Johnson. “We looked like a really fluid unit, and we had a strong performance across the board.”
This victory helped bring the Falcons to a 6-4 conference record, including wins in five of their last six games. Part of this is due to on-court fluidity, in addition to an intense focus on improving the team’s defense.
“Our chemistry is so much better now than it was at the beginning of the season,” said senior outside hitter Cailin Fellows. “Everyone believes in our team now and believes that we can win, and games like Billings really proves the changes that we have made.”
In practices, the women have focused their defense on drills that emphasize defense against middle attackers, specifically a drill called “NEV,” where the girls only get points based off of defense.
“We’ve worked harder at the start of defense, like transitioning, so when we do get a dig, we aren’t scrambling after it, we’re prepared for it,” Fellows said.
All the hard work is paying off as the women have continued to lower their error percentage each game. Sophomore libero Bri Leenders had extra pressure on her this season, as her position is solely a defensive one.
She stepped into a role this year that was left open by 2011 graduate Anna Herold, who won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
“Anna’s shoes are big shoes to fill,” Leenders said. “Her legacy leaves me with high goals and something to push toward; I have very high expectations for myself because of her. I had to learn to have a more tenacious court presence and learn to be a confident, serve-receive anchor in pressured situations.”
She has proven to be a reliable replacement so far, setting personal records in game-high digs as the season progresses.
This has helped her earn the starting libero spot on the team, where she continues to strive for speed and better reaction time as they play important GNAC foes.
Although wins are satisfying, especially when they come in a flurry like the last few weeks, it is not the only thing that the girls strive for.
“We have decided as a team, though, that wins do not define success,” Leenders said. “Success is defined by being able to step off the court and know that you gave everything you had in you for that game, practice or even workout.”
The Falcons will continue to carry this mentality into a two-game road trip this week.
The first match is against Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho on Thursday. Then the Falcons travel to Central Washington in Ellensburg on Saturday.
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