Volleyball adds depth, works on team bonding


Leah Mercer said this year’s volleyball team has something none of her other teams have had.

“We have depth this year like we’ve never had before,” the USI head volleyball coach said. “We’re going to have 16 bodies and we’re coming off a season where we had like 12 healthy.”

The added depth creates options for the lineup, something last year’s team didn’t have because multiple injuries forced players to play out of position. Because of this, Mercer said she’s excited for the season to begin and hopeful for its outcome.

“We have a lot of depth at each position,” she said. “We got to see our girls play this summer at camp, and we made sure they understood that when we come back, it’s a blank slate and people are going to be fighting for positions.”

Because of NCAA rules, the coaching staff has had to wait until the week before classes to hold practices with the team, but that hasn’t stopped the players from practicing on their own.

They’ve been holding their own version of practice called “captains speak” practices, where the players put themselves through two-a-days before the coaches can meet with them.

“We always come early even though it’s not required or anything,” senior defensive specialist Shannon Farrell said. “It’s something we always want to do to help figure things out as a team.”

Farrell, who’s playing in her final season at USI, said the team uses the players-only practices to focus on their cohesion and communication on the court.

There’s bonding on and off the court, as the players opt for dinner together multiple times during the week before the coaches see them again, she said.

Though Farrell said she hasn’t noticed anything the team needs to improve on before their first match, keeping the same level of excitement throughout the whole season is the most important issue she and other upperclassmen are stressing to their underclassmen teammates.

“We can’t let a couple bad games or bad points mess that up,” she said.

The volleyball team’s regular season doesn’t begin until Sept. 1 when they play the University of North Alabama in the UWF Hampton Inn-vitational held in Pensacola, FL. But before then, they play exhibition matches at Oakland City this Saturday and host Kentucky Wesleyan on Aug. 26.