There’s more to athletics than just box scores, wins and losses — sports have the ability to create and strengthen communities.
Truman volleyball did just that Aug. 28 in Pershing Arena. The Truman State volleyball team gave 85 children from kindergarten through eighth grade the chance to get to know and learn from the team, followed by the annual inter-squad scrimmage to kick off the 2015 season.
The Bulldog players put the participants through volleyball drills and station work. After the clinic, the team competed in the Purple vs. White scrimmage, giving the kids, their parents and fans their first look at this season’s team. After the scrimmage, the kids were encouraged to stay for autographs and fun activities.
Head coach Ben Briney says the team’s free clinic gives local kids the chance to meet the girls and learn about the game in a fun way.
“It gives us a chance to promote our team, but it also just promotes the sport of volleyball in Kirksville in general,” Briney says.
Between the clinic participants, families and Bulldog fans, Pershing Arena was a packed house for the Purple vs. White scrimmage — the lights were on, the seats were filled and the team took the floor in game day apparel for the first time this season. The scrimmage featured a match-up between teammates and Briney says this gave the Bulldogs a chance to discover their strengths and weaknesses in a more competitive, game-like environment than everyday practice, giving fans a preview of the excitement that is in store for this season.
Coming off a GLVC Conference Championship during 2014, the Bulldogs return with four starters and high expectations. Preseason GLVC standings have the Bulldogs sitting in second place in the West division behind Rockhurst University.
“Rankings are what your peers think of you,” Briney says. “Obviously for them to rank us second says a lot for our program, the history of our program and the things the girls have done to build that, but preseason rankings really don’t mean anything once the first game starts.”
With that in mind, Briney says the team still is looking for improvements as it approaches the season opener, and the scrimmage gave him ideas of areas that still need work.
Briney says he saw solid play from his players and noticed a lot of things they have been working on during practice. He said the team’s passing definitely needs improvement, and the players still need to work at getting to the tempo they want to play at, but he says he thinks they’ll get there. Briney says he was happy he found these areas to improve before the team started its season.
“They’re working hard,” Briney says. “The changes we’ve been working on with each of them in practice showed today. It’s not always pretty yet, but we’re fine with mistakes as long as we learn from them.”
The team makes its official debut this weekend in Warrensburg, Missouri, against the University of Mary. The Bulldogs will open the season with two tournaments on the road before returning to Pershing for their home opener on Sept. 18.
For the full story on Truman’s volleyball clinic, read the full story from the Index on Issuu.