Washburn volleyball deemed team to beat in MIAA

Washburn University’s Lady Blues volleyball team starts off its season in a familar place ranked above most of its opponents according to the American’s Volleyball Coaches Association’s NCAA Division II 2012 Pre-Season Volleyball Rankings Poll.

“Our team came up with the following goals: a) build and establish good team chemistry, b) improve our ace to error ratio, c) always win at home, d) win the MIAA conference, e) win the regional,” said Washburn volleyball head coach Chris Herron.

The team has been practicing for the past week and are now getting used to each other and the way that they work together. They will be starting their season at the 2012 Palm Beach Atlantic Hyatt Place Sunshine Classic starting with a match at noon Fri. Aug. 31 against Barry University.

“This year’s team is unique because we have eight freshmen. Even though that number is large, they have worked really hard this first week of practice and we upperclassmen couldn’t be prouder of them. They fit in really well and we are looking forward to the season” said senior middle and outside hitter Jessica Kopp.

The team’s home opener will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 versus in-state rival Emporia State. It will be the first of many MIAA games for the preseason conference favors.           

It will be hard to finish better than last year’s season after finishing 17-1 in conference play and ending the year with a 32-3 record. But the Lady Blues are still looking forward to the challenges this season will pose .

“I am looking forward to all the games this season, because in the MIAA, every game is a challenge,” said senior outside hitter Hillary Hughes. “Anything can happen. As a team we will focus on one game at a time until we reach the national championship. However, of course, we always look forward to the rival games of Emporia and Central Missouri.”            

With some new players being added into the mix, it might take some time before the Lady Blues get where they want to be.

“As a team we want to work really hard to have excellent team chemistry,” said Kopp. “Without a common trust we won’t be able to get where we want to be at the end of the season.

With plenty of talent on the roster, the 2012 season may be Washburn’s year to earn some much wanted hardware. It will be tough as the NCAA realigned regions for the NCAA tournament. The other seven teams in the Lady Blues region were all selected in the AVCA Division coaches top 25. Even with a brutal conference and region, Washburn is aiming for another solid year.

“One of our main goals is to win our conference and regional and make it to the Elite Eight,” said Kopp. “We have come up just short of this the past two years and we really want to make it their this year.”