Volleyball begins new season with tie

The Bulldogs opened the season with a split tournament last weekend, competing in the Nova Southeastern Tournament. 

The volleyball team beat Puerto Rico University-Mayagüez 3-2 and Shaw University 3-1, but lost to Nova Southeastern University and got swept by No. 15 nationally ranked Palm Beach Atlantic University. 

Head volleyball coach Ben Briney said the ’Dogs learned a lot in the first tournament. He said players learned more about how they work as a team and what they need to work on as the season progresses. 

Senior libero Lauren Wacker said all the teams last weekend were aggressive in the front row, but the ’Dogs enjoyed the challenge the different players posed. 

Briney said the team is working on consistency, making sure that whatever the play is that each team member is utilizing the techniques they have been practicing. He also said the Bulldogs will be working on its offense.

“Our offense needs a little improvement from last weekend,” Briney said. “There were times when we had the ability to maybe take a set that we should have that we didn’t, or certain parts in a set that we could get the momentum going in our direction and we just didn’t get the swing we needed to get.”

Briney said he expected there to be a learning curve at the start of the season, especially with seven freshmen on a team of 17. Part of having new players in new positions, Briney explained, is acquiring a working team chemistry, which he thinks is going well so far.

Wacker said the team could work on being more terminal — meaning hitters putting the ball down after they receive a serve — to get the ball back into possession quicker. She said there are specific drills the team is practicing to get more kills, which involves players holding each other accountable. 

Briney said the first tournament also allowed the team to find its identity.

“We’re going to be a very scrappy defensive team,” Briney said. “We played really good defense during the weekend, got a lot of balls, got touches on a lot of balls. We’re chasing balls down that were 25 feet off the court … and getting them back into play.”

Wacker said there was no ball without an effort by the team. 

Briney said regardless of the record, his goal this season is to improve week after week. With a conference that is constantly improving, Briney said you can’t take a night off. Whereas Wacker is looking for some wins.

“I fully expect that if we put in 110% this week in practice and during the games, then I believe we will come out with some wins,” Wacker said.

The volleyball team competes next in the Drury Tournament in Springfield, Missouri, Sept. 13-14.