by Katelyn McLean | Staff Writer
With a strong combination of new and returning players, Whitworth volleyball always strives to be a tough competitor in a notoriously strong region. Women’s volleyball head coach Kati Bodecker, who is entering her seventh year coaching volleyball at Whitworth, spoke about this year’s team and their goals for the season.
“I think that every year, we’re just looking to build our program and continue to become a program that can compete at that national level,” Bodecker said.
The west region of the NCAA Division III conference has a reputation for being tough, but Bodecker is encouraged by her team’s progress and growth already this season.
“I feel like this team has a lot of potential and a really high ceiling, so I’m excited to see, every single day, see us get a little bit better and I feel like they’ve already exceeded expectations in terms of where I thought they would be at this point in the season, so I’m really excited to see where that continues to go,” she said.
“I’m most excited to see what our team can accomplish,” senior Emiko Kahler said.
Whitworth Volleyball has five returning seniors who make up the core of the team and take on a role as leaders and mentors to the younger players. That said, there is also a lot of opportunity this season for players who have not had a chance to play in the past, whether that be incoming freshman or returning players getting more time, who now have the opportunity to step into a bigger role in the absence of last season’s seniors.
They have three to four new players in the starting lineup (depending on the particular game’s lineup), three of which are freshmen, and two sophomore players have taken on much larger roles this season.
When asked what these new players bring to the team, Coach Bodecker said experience and their individual skill sets are some of the notable aspects, but for incoming freshman, it is about adapting to the faster pace of college volleyball.
“Our freshman class is really talented, they have strong experience, at least at the high school level of competing, and so I think we’re just expecting them to continue to kind of adapt to the pace of college volleyball.”
Both Bodecker and Kahler agree that drive and determination are the keys to their team’s success. “Our team’s biggest strength is our grit and ability to continue to push ourselves to be the best we can,” Kahler said.
“We have great chemistry out there on the floor,” Bodecker said. “I think generally it’s a group, with both our seniors and underclassmen combined, that is not afraid of hard work. I think they enjoy competing, and they’re not afraid of that pressure that comes with competing and performing in the moment.”
The next home volleyball game is Wednesday, September 26th at 6pm in the Fieldhouse. The Bucs will be facing off against the Blues of Whitman.