Vandals battle injuries heading into spring
Idaho’s volleyball team will start its spring season with a doubleheader at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Bohler Gym in Pullman, as it faces both Central (19-8 in 2014) and fellow Big Sky Conference team Eastern Washington (9-20, 5-11 Big Sky).
The Vandals head into the spring with a light roster as several players are battling injury or illness, so the remaining players will see a boost in playing time.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said sophomore middle blocker Torrin Crawford (foot), rested during Wednesday’s practice to heal up in hope of having both middle blockers ready to play this weekend. Other players include sophomore setter Sami Parris (illness), but she will play Saturday since primary setter Meredith Coba is still recovering from her knee injury sustained last November against North Dakota.
Despite those setbacks, Buchanan said the team has been preparing over the past month, but it still needs improvements on both sides of the court. Buchanan also said her goal for the spring season is the players’ ability to learn different plays and play against other teams in order to improve from last fall.
“We set our goals based on how we finished in the fall,” Buchanan said.
“Offensively, we did some great things. We’re trying to increase our offense, but we really need to get better from the ball control defensive side, blocking, which is all defense, and then the serving.”
Senior outside hitter Katelyn Peterson said the setbacks are an opportunity for last year’s freshmen, who didn’t regularly play last season, to step up their game and fight for a starting spot, which won’t be determined until August.
“It’s gonna be a beneficial thing, so hopefully we can get those girls healthy and of course, the team is going to be ready to play,” Peterson said.
Buchanan said the team must be able to run a quick offense, stay consistent and serve aggressively in order for the team to gain more experience, but she said playing an actual team matters more going into Saturday’s doubleheader.
“At this point, it’s not really about the results,” Buchanan said. “Getting them to feel comfortable, having them compete for new positions, starting to get numbers, but then also looking at the things that we’re doing. Are we going to get the return on what we’ve been doing at practice, like getting better defensively, so we can run the offense like the level we want.”
Looking ahead into Saturday, libero Jenna Ellis, another incoming senior, said it’s important for the Vandals to come out aggressive to start the spring, but fundamentals like passing and serving are important as well.
After losing to Northern Arizona (21-8, 11-5 Big Sky) in three straight sets in the Big Sky Tournament last fall, both Ellis and Peterson said they have moved on from their loss as they are focusing on the current practices and spring season. The Vandals are going into 2015 looking for their 13th consecutive season with a record above .500 and to become stronger contenders in the Big Sky after finishing third in the North Division (11-5 Big Sky, 15-14 overall) during their first season back in the conference. The official volleyball season takes place in the fall.
Luis Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org