Bulldog volleyball gears up for its 2017 season, kicking off at the Quality Inn Ashland Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, Sept. 1 and 2. Another busy weekend will follow that four-game road trip because the Truman State University buses head the opposite direction, south to the Saint Leo Tournament in Florida Sept. 8 and 9.
Facing distant and out-of-region opponents in the opening weekends, Assistant Coach Erin Higgins said preparing for the season opening matches has been a welcomed challenge by the coaching staff.
“Everything we know thus far is based on the film we have watched,” Higgins said. “Coming in new, I do not know a ton of opponents. We do have some film from last year, so we do feel prepared in the sense that okay they have the same girls, but we do have to go in knowing that they will have new players.”
Overall, the ‘Dogs might have a good deal of adjustments to make before the season opener. Along with Higgins joining the Bulldog coaching staff during the off season, Truman welcomed three freshmen to the squad.
The Bulldog roster will have 10 of its 15 members listed as underclassmen, but some — such as sophomore setter Meghan Gasper, sophomore libero Lauren Wacker and sophomore outside hitter Claire Viviano — return with valuable court experience from last year’s GLVC championship winning team.
Overall, Higgins said the Bulldogs seem quite enthusiastic about the upcoming season and have taken the team motto “all in” to represent their unity heading into the new year.
“We all have the same goals,” Higgins said. “We are focusing on things that will make us better as individual players and as a team. We are working a lot on building connections.”
Holly Hildebrand, redshirt junior middle hitter, said the team is taking new strides before the start of the season by reaching outside its comfort zone and looking to make the most of the potential within the current roster.
Hildebrand said practice in the preseason predominantly revolves around breaking down skills to basic fundamentals. While college sports often stress scouting and preparing for various opponents, Hildebrand said Head Coach Ben Briney prefers to keep the focus on fundamentals for their own side of the net.
“We talk about respecting each opponent the same way and worrying about doing what we can do instead of what they can do,” Hildebrand said. “We understand that each time we play we should hold the same great importance as the next.”
Hildebrand said the team will focus on practice and workouts each day until it begins its matches.
Volleyball Preseason Events
- Purple and White intersquad scrimmage game
- 2017 team introductions after hosting a youth clinic earlier in the evening
- Traveled to Warrensburg, Missouri for four-team scrimmage day at the University of Central Missouri
The ‘Dogs leave Wednesday to begin their three-week travel set in Ashland, Ohio. After opening with 10 games on the road, Truman volleyball can be found for the home debut, at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22 in Pershing Arena.