By: Charlie Lott, Sports Writer
With Paladin football winning six straight, the Furman volleyball team has fallen a little under the radar, but they have had just as much success over the last month. Since Sept. 20, the team is 10-1, with the only loss coming Saturday against East Tennessee State University, snapping a ten game winning streak. This is a serious bounceback year for the Paladins, who struggled last season, finishing 11-19, and was below .500 for the first time since 2005. Now-integral parts of the team Courntey Hoffman and Meg DeMaar were redshirted last season.
The team is running behind a high-octane offense that is producing kills and digs like nobody’s business. Throughout that ten game winning streak, no team managed to take more than one set against the Paladins, with four matches ending in sweeps.
What has caused the one-year turnaround? According to head coach Michelle Young, it is all about what’s going on behind the scenes.
“They’ve been on a mission since last year,” explains Young. “Ever since that season they’ve been really focused. They worked hard throughout the spring and the summer in the weight room.” That focus does not just come from coaching, it comes from a healthy competition between the players. “In years past we haven’t had as much depth, and there was less competition. Now if you take a day off or a practice off, there’s someone who can take your job right away and do some good things out there,” says Young.
It might seem like this level of pressure would be daunting for the players, but it has worked wonders in the wins column. “It is really keeping the girls on their toes and making sure they are consistent,” adds Young. “It has made our team a lot better.” The Paladins just need to make sure that they don’t rest on their laurels. “We need to make sure we don’t pat ourselves on the back too early. We do not want to think about how many wins we have or how well we are playing, we just want to focus on the product: better volleyball on our side of the court,” Young said.
Furman has not been as dominant as the record would suggest. The team is not blowing people out, they are doing what they have to do in crunch time and in the big moments to put the competition away. As long as they stay calm and keep up the high level of competition behind the scenes, Furman volleyball will be a group to look out for come tournament time.
Check out volleyball pictures and the sports pictures of the week here.