Gator volleyball competes in spring tournament to prepare for fall season

The Allegheny women’s volleyball team played in a tournament at Slippery Rock University on Saturday, April 26, where it faced Mercyhurst University, Grove City College, Slippery Rock University and Daemen College.

Head Coach Bridget Sheehan said that the team’s improvements showed during the tournament.

“We’ve been trying in spring season to evolve our offense,” said Sheehan. “We’ve been trying to make a faster offense with a little more combination and movement with our hitters. We got a chance to see the younger players get a lot of court time, and we’ve really improved.”

Having a younger group of players and dealing with injuries were two of the biggest challenges for the team during the spring season.

“In the game itself, we are a very defensive team,” said Bailey Gawley, ’17, outside hitter. “Outside of the game, our perseverance is a strength of ours.”

The Gators are also working on their communication on the court.

“Underestimating ourselves  and our potential is one of our biggest weaknesses.” said Terra Schall, ’18, libero and defensive specialist.

Although the team’s skills improved, Sheehan is looking for the team to build on offensive playing ability.

“Our improvement will be offensively,” said Sheehan. “We are definitely committed to getting that under control, getting it faster, and getting it effective against our opponents. We have a great defense already. We improved our passing from the fall to the spring, and the next stage is getting our offense settled.”

The players’ dedication to the game stands out to Sheehan and helped improve their playing ability.

“The strength that we have is that we have really committed players who are really working hard to be accountable to what they’re putting in on the court as a team and as individual players,” Sheehan said. “And, that’s something that we really focused on this spring.”

In order to help motivate the women, the team chooses a word before each practice to focus on for that day.

“We would pick words like energy, focus, or intensity,” said Schall. “Then that would be what would drive us for that day. One of our biggest weaknesses is underestimating ourselves and our potential.”

The spring season helped prepare the team for their fall season, and the players are eager to get back on the court again.

“I really want to finish as one of the top teams in the division,” said Schall. “The hard work put in during the off season will definitely help.”

The team finished first in the NCAC last fall and is determined to finish strong again in the upcoming season.

“I hope that we can continue to improve and finish higher,” said Gawley. “We can hold our own in our conference, and that will push our team forward.”

Every season’s challenges are different, and Sheehan said that she is eager to see what the team has to offer in the fall 2016 season.

“This fall will definitely be a different team than we were this past fall,” said Sheehan. “I am very excited as to what our potential is going to be.”

The Gators begin training for the 2016 season in August. The team plays in a tournament at Saint Vincent College on Friday, Sept. 2.