WU Volleyball: national title contender
Washington University’s women’s volleyball coach Rich Luenemann believes that this year’s squad could be one of the top teams in the history of Washington University volleyball, and nobody is doubting him for a second.
“I feel very comfortable in saying that everyone in the program thinks we’re very capable of winning the national title of 2002,” said Luenemann.
The squad possesses all the ingredients necessary for a successful season, or according to Luenemann, five important ones.
Talent is one of the most important factors. Luenemann believes the 2002 season will be one of the most memorable seasons.
“I think this is a very talented team. Our starting six are all very capable players,” said Luenemann.
The Bears also posses outstanding depth. Luenemann can go as deep as three or four players at each position with the exception of the setter’s position.
“[Our depth] makes for very spirited practices,” said Luenemann. Because of the team’s depth, competition on both sides of the net in practice is very equal, allowing the starting team to sharpen their skills.
Experience will play a key role as well. While the team has only one senior, all six starters are returning from last season’s match against Wisconsin-Whitewater in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals.
Another factor is leadership.
“The older players in the program are excellent leaders and role models,” said Luenemann. “They just exude class.”
Perhaps the most important ingredient of the 2002 team is chemistry.
“The team chemistry is absolutely extraordinary,” said Luenemann. “Kind of like the musketeers, one for all and all for one.it’s a very positive, very supportive, very enthusiastic environment.”
The team’s opening match is this Friday, August 30th at 10:00 a.m. in Colorado Springs.
“This is going to be a challenging tournament. We are playing some very good teams,” said Luenemann.
The Bears will also be facing their nemesis, Central College of Iowa, in their second match Friday night. The Bears beat Central last year at the regional championships and stopped their string of three consecutive national titles.
Saturday morning the women will play Whitworth College, one of the premier west coast volleyball teams, followed immediately by a match against Colorado College.
“[The tournament] will be a good opener for the women. One of the nice things about the trip is that while it is based upon the competitive aspects of going out there, it is also an opportunity for the team to bond, to enjoy some time together, and to enhance the chemistry,” said Luenemann.
The rest of the season will be an extremely challenging one for the Bears, as Lunemann predicts that the Bears have the toughest Division III schedule in America.
The team is committed to three weekends for University of the Athletic Association play, the conference in which three of its teams advanced to post-season play last year.
Additionally, WU will be in for some tough challenges in the various tournaments they play throughout the year.
The women play at the Wittenberg tournament later in the season. Additionally, the Simpson Tournament offers the WU Bears the chance to go after Wisconsin-Whitewater and make amends for last years heartbreaking loss.
“Win or lose, [the women] are going to represent the university very well, not only in the way that they play, but in the way they conduct themselves,” said Luenemann. ” They are A1, number 1, top drawer ladies.”
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