For the volleyball team, constant talking at practice and in competition is anything but a distraction.
Racking up 1,024 kills on offense so far this year and ranking sixth in the Empire 8 conference in total kills, the Blue and Gold have found their stride by focusing on communication and making smarter plays at the net, junior middle blocker Kate Thoene said.
“Our team has grown a lot this season in that department,” she said. “Our back row talks to us in the front row when we’re hitting, allowing us to use smart shots to place the ball where we’ll get the point.”
Sophomore setter Marissa Woodcome said communication is key after every point.
“The team also comes to the center of the court after each point and will quickly talk strategy and tell each other what they can do to fix the block or how to stop particular hitters tendencies on the other side,” Woodcome said.
Another key factor that has influenced the Bombers’ offensive approach this season is the team’s new assistant coach, Katie Brody. Brody is a 2006 alumna of Binghamton University where she led the Bearcats in total kills with 428 and kills per set at 3.63 her senior year.
Thoene said Brody’s experience as a college player is what helps her give the offense good coaching advice.
“Our new assistant coach Katie has been
instrumental in helping us as offensive players,” Thoene said. “During practice she helps us with our technique and ball placement, and she understands that every player is different. She has a ton of experience as a college player, and the whole team highly respects her and listens to her advice.”
Woodcome said the team is always thinking and anticipating the next shot this season and athletes have their heads in the game together. Woodcome said Head Coach Janet Donovan has been pushing communication off the court as well.
“We go out together, do team bonding activities and eat lunch together during the day and then have team dinners,” Woodcome said. “We always make it a point to get to know each other so getting along on the court is easier.”
Freshman setter Sydney Folk said Brody and Corinna Doctor ’10, who was a member of the volleyball team for four years as an undergraduate and has assisted in practice this season, have helped fix steps in the offense by working with the hitters and setters.
Folk said the team’s communication is vital in allowing Woodcome and her to set up other players for better hits.
“We’re both also getting more comfortable with the hitters,” Folk said. “We are working on getting them their favorite set — a ball they know they will be able to put away.”
The team also communicates by making funny or silly faces to lighten the mood on the court when there is a bad set. Thoene said they work best when they are laughing or having a good time in a game.
“The most important communication that we use is to pick each other up when we make a mistake,” she said. “By saying things like, ‘you’ve got the next one’ and making eye contact with each other, we have been able to connect more on the court and move on from our mistakes faster.”
The Bombers have had more discussions about how they are feeling this year and have a team chemistry that will contribute to winning more this season, Woodcome said.
“We really are trying to push the chemistry we have off the court onto the court,” she said. “Communication is a huge part of that cohesive bond that we’re getting better at but still striving more for. We always want to play as a team and not just play to win.”