Under the tagline “Decade of Dominance,” members of Ohio’s volleyball team have pressure to continue what other players before them have started.
The team began the season with an 8-6 record, which many teams would be happy with. But coach Ryan Theis said he needed more from his team during non-conference play.
“I don’t think I am satisfied with our level of play with the preseason. I think we did not capitalize on a lot of opportunities throughout the course of the year,” Theis said. “(We had) chances to extend matches into a fifth game against Western Kentucky, opportunities to stretch on at Georgia Southern, a fifth game at Tennessee that we didn’t convert.”
He also pointed to lost opportunities, such as missed volleys, that extend beyond the record and number of points scored.
Helping control volleys is critical to increasing volleyball IQ, something Theis said his team needs to improve.
“It’s a big priority for our team to get smarter, to understand more of what’s going on on the court,” Theis said. “It’s hard with the number of underclassmen that we have. Hopefully, we can teach them and we can get better as the year goes on.”
Theis said the team has put together some solid games, including the fifth games against Villanova and Maryland, but it has not
happened on a consistent level.
During the Baymont Inn and Suites Invitational at The Convo two weekends ago, the left side hit very well, and the middles played well last weekend.
Theis said he believes his team is on the verge of putting it all together.
“We’ve had great play at all positions, but it hasn’t been long enough periods of time,” Theis said. “ I think we are getting close to that, and I think our players are starting to play a little bit better. We just need to put it all together.”
Theis has called for more consistent play from his players, and they echoed the sentiment as the conference season kicks off this weekend.
“We need to work on staying consistent. Over the weekends, we’ve been a roller coaster going up and down, giving up too many point runs,” said Katie Post, a senior outside hitter/middle blocker. “At the end of the MAC season, we want to be playing our best volleyball, obviously win other MAC
tournaments (and the) MAC championship.”
One of the team’s goals is to win a MAC championship, but some members of the team have not yet experienced the pressure that comes along with defending a title.
The big rivalries are a part of conference play, and the importance of playing well against these teams
has been stressed.
“We talked about the MAC in terms of how they feel about us, and having the target on our backs and explaining to the freshmen what (Bowling Green) and Miami rivalries mean,” Theis said. “We explained to them the level of intensity that is a rivalry; we explained to them what the other teams feel and how badly they want to beat us.”
The team’s freshmen from other states do not have a feel for the significance just yet.
“I did not know about the MAC before I came to visit here,” freshman outside hitter Chelsea Bilger said. “You come into your freshman year and you hear all about it. … There is a lot to live up to from the past years. There is a lot of pressure. I’m excited to play big rivalries.”