Head volleyball coach Janet Donovan paced up and down the sidelines as she looked onto the court. During the team’s recent four-game losing streak, Donovan has been constantly reassessing the players she puts on the floor.
After a disappointing performance at the Nazareth Purple and Gold Invitational tournament on Oct. 4–5 and a tough loss to SUNY Cortland on Oct. 9, the Blue and Gold were able to return to their winning ways during the homecoming tournament on Oct. 11–12. The Bombers finished 3–1 after their most recent slate of games, losing only to Messiah College in the final match 1–3. Their previous three wins came against Utica College, Medaille College and Wells College.
Freshman outside hitter Shaelynn Schmidt had another productive outing in last week’s tournament and was selected to the all-tournament team for the second time this season. She added 55 more kills to her total over the four games and remains the Bombers’ biggest offensive threat with a team best of 280 kills.
Freshman outside hitter Grace Chang also had a noteworthy weekend as she tallied 27 kills, 46 digs and eight blocks in three matches.
The day after being shutout 3–0 by Cortland, Donovan said the Bombers felt an added motivation to improve during their next four games in Ben Light Gymnasium.
“The positive thing out of the loss is we are getting a feeling that we’re better than that. We worked really hard in the gym, and the kids were excited for homecoming and having another shot at competing and playing together.”
Senior captain Justine Duryea said practices ramped up in intensity with more intrasquad scrimmaging and situational drills to simulate real matches.
“In practice one of the biggest things we work on is just really competing against each other because we try to make our practices as game-like as possible,” she said. “If you have practices that are harder than games, games don’t seem too difficult.”
Freshman setter Molly Brown and sophomore defensive specialist Dylan Gawinski-Stern have seen increased playing time. These changes have yielded positive results, evident in their 3–1 record during their last tournament. Chang said Donovan tried different setups and player groupings, which is not her typical approach to coaching.
“Every team is different,” she said. “Coach changed her coaching style to help us reach our potential by pitting us with different teammates to help us find the best lineup.”
Chang said the team is focused on maintaining a positive mentality and keeping matches closer for the rest of the season
“Our mindset is to flip the switch,” she said. “We struggled in the beginning but that’s in the past and we’re past that. It really shows our character, we’re not going to lay flat or rollover, we’re going to go in every match wanting to win.”