Last season the Idaho volleyball team came up one game short of claiming its first WAC crown when it lost to New Mexico State in the conference tournament championship game. Now after months of waiting, the Vandals are back on the court as preparation for next season is well underway.
The Vandals will get their spring season going on Saturday when they travel to play Eastern Washington in the first match of the spring.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said she is happy with the way the team has performed in practice so far, but wants to see them against an actual opponent.
“We just need to play someone else and get challenged in a new way,” Buchanan said. “I’m excited to get some of those kids to play new positions and get challenged a little bit more. They’re going to have to hang in there and play through some things.”
It will be a much different Vandal team taking the court this season after Idaho lost six players to graduation, including a host of starters, many of whom were four-year starters. With that much talent gone, there’s bound to be some issues, but Idaho sophomore Alyssa Schultz said she likes what Idaho has coming back.
“It is going to be a building year, but at the same time I feel like we have the ability to be another leading team in the WAC,” Schultz said. “We have all the leadership we need, it’s just a matter of using it.”
The Vandals will play a total of four times this spring. Idaho will host a tournament on April 13, travel to Gonzaga on April 20 and will travel to Portland on April 27.
Idaho junior Ashley Christman said she can’t wait to play other squads.
“It’s going to be really nice to play someone other than our own team,” Christman said. “Playing against each other can get really tedious after a while, but it will be fun to get this group of girls on the court and see how it goes playing someone else.”
Right now the Vandal numbers are low after losing the six seniors, but Buchanan said she has six players coming in — two junior college transfers and four freshmen to help reload the Vandal squad.
Overall Buchanan said she is pleased with the mentality her team has come out with this spring and said the spring is all about improvement.
“It’s been a different dynamic with this group,” Buchanan said. “The effort has been good. The attitudes have been good. We just have to continue to develop as a volleyball team. This isn’t about wins and losses in the spring. It’s about the rate of improvement.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at email@example.com