After winning the SLIAC regular-season title in 2019, the GU Women’s Volleyball Team will have to wait even longer to reclaim their title. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the volleyball season has been pushed back to the spring. What does this mean for the Lady Panthers as the season approaches? Will a longer preseason help or hinder their performance? Let’s see what Coach Hayle Gibson has to say!
With the preseason underway, the team is able to practice Mondays and Wednesdays with conditioning on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Coach Gibson mentioned that because of COVID restrictions, the team will be forced to practice in smaller groups and won’t be able to participate in as many full team scrimmages. They will also be utilizing the outdoor facilities that are available to them: parking lots, grass areas, and the new sand court.
Since the team is able to practice longer than usual (even with the various restrictions), the women will have that much more time to prepare and better themselves. Not only will the longer practice period help the team’s performance, but it will also boost the team’s morale and culture. Sophomore setter, Kaitlin Murray, stated, “I think that my team will definitely be more grateful for when we get time to be together and practice together.”
Gibson also discussed that with the possibility of burnout in mind, the coaches have made careful decisions on the structure and frequency of practices. She and the other coaches know the team just needs to get back into the swing of things with some reps and enthusiasm.
With a sneak peek into the preseason, what will the Lady Panthers’ spring season look like? The team’s first game will be held on February 19th at Spalding, followed by two more games that month. According to Gibson, the women will be competing in a conference-only schedule, which means they will only be playing around 20 games. Typically, the team plays 30-32 matches, meaning they will only be able to play around 60% of their normal season. Fortunately, though, the SLIAC Tournament will still be held. Those games will be played on April 10th, 13th, 14th, and 16th.
With this revised schedule, the volleyball team’s fan base may be affected as well. Will there be an increase in fans because people are excited to see them back in action? Or will the change result in a decrease in fans? According to Murray, fans are a necessity for the team. “I really hope fans will be able to come to our games. Fans are a really huge part of the game and most of our energy stems from fans,” she said. Hopefully, the NCAA will allow fans to attend sporting events, so the volleyball team will be able to have their cheering fans to push them to victory.
Even with all of the restrictions and schedule changes, the GU Women’s Volleyball team will be fighting to bring home another SLIAC title in the spring.
Media by Desirae Yost.