Uneven season for Maverick volleyball
October 10th, 2011
Omaha, NE – After a sub-par start to the season, the University of Nebraska Omaha volleyball team won two straight games last weekend in a tournament in Kansas, but fell to Central Missouri Saturday night. In an interview with KVNO News, Head Coach Rose Shires takes a look at volleyball’s uneven season.
This year has been nothing like what Coach Rose Shires expected. UNO started the season 4 – 17, and went through a stretch of eight straight losses. (The Central Missouri 3-0 loss drops the Mavericks to 4-18) A schedule that mixed both top tier Division-I and II teams has brought a lot of misfortune and hardship to the Mavs in the win-loss column. One reason for the piling losses this year, according to Coach Shires, is the transition to Division I.
“One of the difficult things about this transition year,” Shires said, “is we are searching for our identity. We are searching for who we are as a team and trying to lay the foundation for the future.”
The majority of opponents UNO faces this year are brand new to the team. That means Coach Shires is relying on scant video footage to prepare them, and she’s also relying on in-game adjustments.
“If you look at our schedule, you can see that we haven’t won a lot of first sets,” she said, “and that’s because we’re spending the entire first set learning about our opponent for the first time.”
UNO announced its move to Division I in March this year, and is half-way through the volleyball season. That left Shires six months to schedule a full year of games. That also meant UNO had to schedule a number of road games, Shires said. Over the past three weeks alone, the Mavs have traveled to, in order: Brookings, South Dakota; Denver, Colorado; Wichita, Kansas; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and finally last weekend, Topeka and Lawrence, Kansas. That’s 1,600 miles each week for three straight weeks.
“We are just constantly on the road,” Shires said, “and it does wear on you, both physically and mentally. And that’s, again, why I am giving so much credit to the athletes on the team.”
After last weekend’s poor start at the Washburn Crossover Tournament, which saw UNO start the tourney 0-2, the Mavs bounced back and finished 2-2 with wins against Dallas Baptist University and the University of Central Oklahoma. Last Tuesday, UNO played Kansas. It was a tighter match than the 3-0 score indicated, as UNO nearly won the last set before losing 28-26.
“What I am proud of,” Shires said, “is I really believe our senior leadership has really demonstrated how to come out of it, how to play, how to compete, regardless who is on the other side of the net. And I have seen a real surge and a real difference in our competitiveness and in our play (in) probably the last three to four weeks.”
UNO has seven games left this year; all are away games. The second to last game is against old rival the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Shires said her team is ready for what lies ahead.
“Our goal was to win eight matches in the month of October,” she said. “So, to do that, we have to win six of the seven matches. I feel every match that we have on our schedule is a winnable match for us. And now it’s just a matter of completing it, finishing the plays and finishing the sets to be able to get those wins.”
UNO hits the road again Tuesday, October, 11 to South Dakota.