After spending last fall focused on overcoming injuries while still claiming a winning season with an overall record of 18-14, the Washburn volleyball team is back and ready to earn more victories.
Head Coach Chris Herron centers their projected success around the importance of athlete health.
“Until last year, we had been blessed with very few injuries. Then last year, it was like the floodgates opened up,” Herron said. “Right now we’re fairly deep at several positions and I want to stay that way.”
Shayla Conner, a senior setter for the Ichabods, agrees with her coach about the importance of remaining healthy in order to have a successful season.
“Usually, the best teams at the end of the year are the healthier teams,” Conner said.
When asked how the team has prepared themselves for a tough fall schedule, Herron takes a more trusting approach to summer workouts than most Division II program coaches.
“Here’s the deal about summer workouts at the NJCAA Division II level; you can’t require your kids to workout. It’s a voluntary thing. For the most part, I think our kids do pretty well preparing on their own. It’s not different than any other sport, you have an offseason,” Herron said. “Our philosophy is that the fall is about us, and the spring is about you.”
Alison Maxwell, sophomore, Faith Rottinghaus, sophomore, Makayla Maxwell, senior, Erica Montgomery, junior and Genna Berg, sophomore, have all been named as powerhouse players to watch out for this season.
Both Conner and Herron agree that the new freshmen additions to the team have done a fantastic job of fitting in and assuming their roles in the program. They think the young promise, combined with focus and determination, will be a key element in their success.
“We were in the weight room a lot this summer, we tried to play [soccer games] every Monday, lots of team bonding, and just hanging out and just trying to create a good chemistry. I think it’s worked pretty well,” Conner said.
Herron puts strong emphasis on the student body in regards to the improvements that can be made to give the Ichabods a more successful season, and leaves a big responsibility in its hands.
“The big thing that we want to see at Washburn is to have more student body involvement. Our track team was off the charts for us last year in terms of their support. We would like to see more kids, who maybe don’t even play any sports, come to our matches and cheer us on,” Herron said.
Students have their first chance to showcase their support this weekend as the Bods have their season opener at Lee Arena. It will be a two-day tournament consisting of four games, which will begin at noon Friday against Dallas Baptist University.