Despite loss, volleyball ends season on high note

With four key players graduating, volleyball team looks to off-season for growth and improvement



Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Caroline Blackmon

After an ODAC Quarterfinal win against Emory and Henry, the Washington and Lee volleyball team fell to nineteenth ranked Virginia Wesleyan in the ODAC Semifinals on Nov. 7.

Although this end to the season was not exactly what the team had in mind, the players feel confident that they learned valuable lessons and can improve drastically in the off-season to come back strong next fall.

Head Coach Bryan Snyder said he hopes that the girls learned how important each teammate is to the overall success of the team.

“I hope they learned the value of hard work and consistency and that everyone’s role is important,” Snyder said. “Whether you play one point or 100 points, everyone is equally valuable to the team.”

The team’s “out-of-system” offense was their greatest strength this year, and is something that Snyder said he hopes to carry on into the next year. An “out-of-system” offense is what happens when the first pass is far away from the setter, and the rest of the offense must try to generate good offensive moves.

“We did a great job both training and executing outlet setting and outlet attacking,” Snyder said. “That helped us to be more successful.”

Captain Kenzie Shand, ’17, said the team realized how important their unity and culture is to the development of the team.

“Our [team] culture is strong and it can carry us through games,” Shand said. “I hope that with potentially nine, or more, incoming freshmen, we can hold on to that as a strength.”

Libero Katrina Volk, ’18, praised the team’s leadership from this year, saying she thinks this is one of the most important strengths for the team to carry over into next season.

“One of our biggest strengths was our great leadership,” Volk said. “I think us younger players have seen what a great leader looks like and so can try to copy that, and we [will] also have one returning captain.”

During off-season workouts, which will start during winter term, the team will definitely begin to miss the four seniors who led the team this season, Snyder says, especially their experience and level of commitment each day.

“[All of the seniors have] logged a lot of court time, so they have a lot of experiences in wins, losses, close situations and end-game adjustments,” Snyder said. “They’re just terrific young women and I’ll miss having them around and getting to interact with them on a daily basis.”

The younger girls on the team say they will miss the seniors because of the fun atmosphere they brought to the gym, as well as the examples they set.

“What I’ll miss most about the seniors is their leadership both on and off the court,” Shand said. “They were definitely the heart of the culture of the program this year and I only hope we can continue what they’ve brought to this program even when they’re not here.”

Volk said that it’s going to be a strange experience for her to enter the gym next season without the senior girls at the practices.

“All the seniors set such a great example for what a Generals’ volleyball player should be,” Volk said. “The love for the team that they had was so great.”

With the influence of the seniors in mind, the rest of the team is excited for the off-season, when they can begin improving on the problems they experienced this past season.

Snyder said he believes that their lack of strength at blocking at the net was a “catalyst” for some of their losses this season.

“Both technically and tactically, our blocking at the net has to get better,” Snyder said. “We have good individual defenders, but our defense was stressed.”

Volk said that although the team is good at keeping a strong mindset throughout a volleyball match, they are always looking to improve on their mental toughness.

Since Shand is the only returning leader for next season, her parting words for the team echo the idea that what they built this year will be something the program will look to continue.

“Obviously I am sad that [the season] is over. We overcame a lot of unexpected obstacles this season which I think made us stronger as a unit,” Shand said. “[I thank the girls] for putting [their] heart and soul into every minute of every day in regards to commitment and love for this team.”