With the start of the season just days away, the Vandal volleyball team is still seeing heated competition for starting spots, which was on full display Saturday morning when the team scrimmaged for the last time before the opening tournament.
The Vandals looked solid in their final intra-squad scrimmage, with three competitive sets played. Everyone is getting in on the action, including the team’s freshmen, who are fighting for spots with the seniors.
Senior setter Jenny Feicht said it’s good to see freshmen who bring intensity.
“Today was good. It was good competition,” Feicht said. “I think it’s cool that we have three freshmen who can really compete and play hard. They’re bringing up our level a lot.”
The start to the season may be Friday, but the competitions are so close right now that it’s not clear who will come out on top in the numerous position battles.
“It is close,” Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. “I would say that this is probably, at least in the last three years, it’s probably the most competitive both sides have been and how they’ve been pushing each other, and that’s what you want to have happen.”
There are numerous positions still up for grabs, including libero and setter. Buchanan said the players who win the spots will be the ones who are most consistent day after day.
“Kids are working for their position,” Buchanan said. “Every day it’s about performance. It’s about putting up the best numbers and who’s the most consistent. So we rotated through the different options that we may have. If you look back, in my mind, we have our lineup solidifying.”
Despite many of the starting roles still up for grabs, the players know one thing — they’re ready to get the season going. The team has had nothing but scrimmages for weeks and Feicht said they’re ready for the real thing.
“We’ve been competing against each other so long that we’re ready,” Feicht said. “We’re just ready to go out there and kick some butt.”
While the players are ready for a change of scenery, the coaches are too. Buchanan said seeing your own team day after day doesn’t always tell where a team is at because the players learn each other’s tendencies and can anticipate what they’ll do. In real competition, the players won’t have that luxury.
“It’s really hard to know at this point as a coach,” Buchanan said. “You’re looking really good, digging a lot of balls, touching a lot of balls, but you really need to play someone else to really see how you stack up. We need to play someone else in a different system than what we’re doing.”
For the five seniors on the roster, this is part of what they’ve come to expect. Senior Janelle Chow said the biggest advantage they have as a team is how long they’ve played together. She said regardless of what they’re working on, the team chemistry is the most important key to success.
“We’re working a lot on passing, but I’d say the unity with the seniors,” Chow said. “We’ve played together for four years already, so we know each other’s tendencies and how each other plays and how to pick each other up.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at email@example.com