By Emerson Scollo
The William Peace University volleyball team springs back into action in their first official games since the fall of 2019. The team began practice in February and in March started playing other teams.
The Game against Averett
The volleyball team suffered a loss to Averett at home on Thursday March 4. The game went to five sets, with the Pacers just barely losing the last set to the Cougars. Sets are games to twenty-five, that make up a whole match.There can be three to five of these sets in one match. This game was not a conference match and the Pacers will have another chance to play the Cougars. So this game can be used as a learning experience.
“I am not upset with our overall performance and am looking forward to seeing this team continue to get better the rest of the season” said Nicole Barringer, WPU Volleyball Coach.
“It was our first game playing together and after playing it, I feel like we have a very strong connection with each other. I’m really excited to play them again because I have 100% confidence that we can beat them” said Landis Limon, WPU freshman.
“There were some really amazing things we did, and some things that we learned we need to work on” said Abigail Benton, WPU senior.
The Game against Methodist
The Pacers played again on Saturday March 6 against Methodist University and brought home a win in three sets.
“I think this game went very well! We were able to take a lot of things we learned from Averett and put them into play during this game,” said Brittney Carpenter, WPU senior.
“Looking back on the match against Averett, I think that although it was a challenging match, it allowed us as a team to set a foundation for the rest of the season,” said Hannah Collier, WPU freshman.
“The energy was unmatched and we dominated all 3 sets,” said Barringer, “It went great and we kept pushing until the very last point. I think we also were very focused and determined and careful not to get complacent,” said Limon.
Now that they have had two games the players have experienced some of the biggest changes due to Covid. One of the biggest changes for players is not having fans able to watch the games in person. This affects the players mentality and makes the gym feel very quiet.
“I think the weirdest part about this season is not having spectators. Like in most other sports, fans really bring that extra energy to hype us up. However, our bench has been spectacular at bringing that energy that is missing from those fans. Even when we were not playing well, our team has continued to support each other and promote a positive vibe on the court, ” said Benton.
“Before the season started, I thought that not having spectators would be the biggest hurdle to jump as volleyball is a game that relies on the energy in the gym. However, I quickly learned that this was not going to be an issue. Our bench has stepped up to the plate in such a way that it feels as if the gym is filled beyond capacity,” said Carpenter.
Another big change is that the teams are required to wear masks in practices as well as games. The weeks leading up to the first games gave the players time to grow accustomed to wearing the masks while playing.
“We have been working out, practicing, and conditioning in masks since the beginning of the semester, but nothing compares to the game time atmosphere. With adrenaline high, long rallies and a loud gym, wearing a mask can be very taxing on breathing,” said Barringer.
Pre and post game rituals such as wishing the other team good luck, have also been altered due to Covid. Usually players come to the net at the start of the game to wish the otherside “good luck” and at the end to tell the otherside “good game” but instead players must stay on the end line and say “good luck” while waving.
This leaves players feeling as if the game is left unfinished because the win is not sealed by the high fives and “good games” at the end.
The future looks bright for the Pacer volleyball team as they continue their season. The team has a strong group of freshen players that will be interesting to watch their improvements throughout the season.
“We have a spectacular group of freshmen who are getting better everyday, and our team as a whole has improved drastically since this past Fall,” Benton.
“I think we are a very solid team. We are very encouraging and we constantly are looking to improve and I think our future is big and I believe we have the talent, mentality, and heart to go to the NCAA tournament,” said Limon.
Having a lot of good competitive players makes the team better. This allows for self growth through striving to earn their spot on the starting line up.
“I could not be more proud of the things that have been accomplished in this unconventional year. The work ethic and drive behind this team never ceases to amaze me,” said Carpenter.
“The future of this season is very bright. As long as we focus on our game and prepare for each team we play to bring something different, we will be successful. The future after this season will continue to be bright. We will lose four seniors that have put their heart and soul into this program and will be sorely missed. However, we will retain an amazing group of players with so much potential and equal heart to continue the success of this program” said Barringer.