WU spikers begin tough year in Florida

Flying High The seventh ranked Lady Blues will pack their bags and head to the east coast for the Palm Beach Atlantic Hyatt Place Sunshine Classic. There the Blues will play four matches in beautiful Florida.

Jordan Loomis

This season the Lady Blues volleyball team will be participating in the Palm Beach Atlantic Hyatt Place Sunshine Classic tournament located in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Heading into the tournament, the No. 7 Lady Blues will look to start strong after a fantastic 2011 season. And having competed in a tournament like this upcoming one last year, both WU volleyball coaches are ready for the change.

The first change this season has been the leadership on the court. According to head coach Chris Herron and assistant coach Taylor Pohlman, the leadership this season for the volleyball team has been great.

“Our senior girls have really accepted their roles and have so far been outstanding role models,” said Herron.

With the previous season leaving a lot of room for younger players – eight freshmen to be exact – Pohlman also believes strongly in the senior players. WU will need some underclassman to step up on the front line to compliment senior All-American Jessica Fey.

“I personally think that we have a solid core group of three senior girls who are playing a major role in shaping this season’s freshmen for the upcoming season,” said Pohlman.

Having red-shirted four of the eight freshmen players this season, Pohlman ensures her strong belief behind the girls eligible to give the Washburn Lady Blues their best opportunities to win throughout the season.

“With the region changes, the girls know they are going to have to be more focused than ever before in order to accomplish their team goals, and I believe the seniors can get that done,” said Pohlman.

Going into this tournament, Herron has created one mindset for his players – to work hard, yes, but to also understand that every team is capable of beating them.

“We simply try to make our players understand that if they give their best effort, then at the end of the match, all of us can walk off feeling good about ourselves,” said Herron.

The tournament opens with the Lady Blues facing off against Barry University. BU finished 11-17 in Steve Hendricks’ first year at the helm.

“They are going to be a completely new team that we don’t really know what to expect from,” said Pohlman.

The Blues then move on to play the University of Southern Indiana who lost the conference player-of-the-year last season. They replaced her with a Division 1 transfer Molly King.

“Both teams have a week to modify their systems for a win,” said Pohlman. “So we’re not going to let our team down.”

The team will have to regroup after two tough matches and square off against Saginaw Valley.

“They have a great program and had a really successful season last year, so we are looking forward to a great match,” said Pohlman.

Even with the hard work ahead of them, the Lady Blues have a special reward so far this season that’s just outside of their reach.

“Thanks to some of our teams’ parents’ donations, we’re going to take the girls snorkeling and reward them for their hard work after the girls play hard throughout the tournament,” said Pohlman.

The Lady Blues’ last match is against host Palm Beach Atlantic University.

But regardless of winning or losing, the Washburn Lady Blues are definitely ready for their upcoming tournament.

“We’re truly looking forwards to competing and enjoying the experiences we will share on this trip,” said Herron.