With the fall sports season underway, Capital University’s volleyball program is just approaching conference play.
Under second-year head coach Leah Farrell, the team is looking to improve on a 4 and 9 record. Although she is working with a young team, Coach Farrell praises the versatility of her players.
“[On] last year’s team, there wasn’t much depth,” Farrell said. “This year, I could play any of my twenty players in any situation, which is … a huge bonus …”
She was also quick to praise the work ethic of this year’s team, saying that the effort her athletes put into physical strength and conditioning allows her to focus more on skill, the technique and foundational movement of the sport.
“They came more ‘ready to go’ than in August of 2015,” Farrel said. “… you can tell …”
Farrell cited examples of the team’s improvement with the mention of hard-fought losses during tournament play to teams such as Bluffton and Case Western Reserve that had dominated the Crusaders in years past.
“They really fought in a way I hadn’t seen them fight before,” Farrell said of her team taking on Bluffton. “… we’re much more physical than we were last year.”
The volleyball team is headed to Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, on the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25 for their last tournament of the season. From there, they will engage in conference matches with other Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) teams. Farrell looks forward to this time of the season because of factors on and off the court.
“Once October starts, we go down to two matches per week,” Farrell said, “which I think is … a great sell to our new recruits.”
She explained that only having matches on Tuesdays and Saturdays gives the athletes time to focus on academics and put in ample time when doing school work. As she puts it, this gives the players time to “really tighten up … and not miss any class time.”
Within conference play, Farrell said that the main goal is to incorporate more physical play. She mentioned that in addition to being relatively young, the 2016 team is also tall. Farrell wants to use this to their advantage, and has been coaching her players on “pressing over the net.”
When asked about conference opponents, Farrell was quick to mention the fact that Heidelberg University won the OAC last year and did not lose anyone to graduation. She also relayed that Baldwin-Wallace is doing surprisingly well so far this season, and called them “an offensive powerhouse.”
Farrell says that conference play is her favorite because of how competitive the OAC is in volleyball.
“That’s the best thing about this conference,” she remarks. “… that every single match, every team you play in this conference is competitive.”
Farrell cites not only physical strength but mental toughness as the key to future success.
“The girls work really hard when they come to practice,” Farrell states. “… it’s a testament to them as Division III athletes.”
As the season progresses, Farrell and the volleyball team will hopefully continue to improve on what they have already accomplished, no less in a competitive conference. Coach Farrell continues to coach on the foundations of physical and mental strength.
“You have to have that mental fortitude,” she declares. “… you have to say ‘Hey!’ in the morning, ‘It’s game day.’”
Hopefully, we will see more improvement and more victory out of the 2016 Capital University volleyball team.