Women’s Volleyball looks forward to spring season

Derek Harper, Staff Reporter

The women’s volleyball team is continuing its weekly practice routine as players prepare for a potential GNAC spring season and conference tournament. The GNAC is planning on an 18-game season with everybody playing each other twice.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously thought that teams would play in what they call pods, with teams playing multiple games per weekend against GNAC conference opponents. 

According to head coach Mario Andaya it is uncertain that teams will host pods. However, they wouldn’t play a regular schedule with each school going to CWU and CWU traveling to other schools. Schools would only host a pod once. 

According to Andaya, it’s possible that teams along the I-5 and I-90 corridor would be the host pods along with the Alaskan schools. 

Other schools, such as Montana State University Billings and Northwest Nazarene University, would be what they call outliers. 

When it comes to Simon Fraser University, an institution based in British Columbia, Canada, that’s the biggest question mark when it comes to the GNAC’s spring season and conference tournament. If the Canadian border is open they’ll play, but whether or not they’d host a pod or be an outlier is unclear.

However, with the progression that’s been made with controlling the spread of COVID-19, pods may not happen. 

Andaya thinks the athletic directors and President’s Council want to do their best to make it as normal as possible.

“I don’t know if that’s going through now, I think the senior or the [athletic directors] and the President’s Council, I think they’re a little bit more inclined now to keep it a little bit more regular so we might be going home and home again,” Andaya said.

In a normal year, the volleyball team would play a set of two home games on a Thursday and Saturday. The next week they either went on the road or played another set of home games. They’d play two different schools during each set of games.

If the pod format happens, the post-season GNAC tournament would be held at a neutral site, according to Andaya.

“If it does go to the pods then we’ll stay with that and then the post-season would happen at one neutral site and right now I think that’s going to be at Seattle Pacific,” Andaya said.

With the pod format and neutral site, the GNAC would have to figure out how to hold all the teams at the neutral site with any possible COVID-19 protocols that are in place at that time.

The young players are fitting in well and the team is focusing on sharpening their skills.

“Physically I like our ball control, I like the young players that we have as far as passing and setting in our game we call that the ball control area, so I like where we’re headed towards in that sense,” Andaya said.

Senior Makala Swart also touched on the team’s goals, what they’re looking to improve upon and the team’s strengths. 

Having to adhere to COVID-19 protocols in practice has limited what the team can do with a focus on the fundamentals and sharpening their skills.

“We only do drills that will allow us to keep space between each [other players], a social distancing kind of thing, [it] limits the type of scrimmaging that we can do,” Swart said.“It was almost a blessing in disguise we can now take this time to really focus on the fundamentals and like our skills.”

One thing the team is looking to improve on is serving.

“If we look at statistics from previous seasons and just our team in the past, we’ve never been a super tough serving team,” Swart said.

Swart said they’re really trying to work on getting flat-like floating serves. Serving is an individual activity so she explained how it’s a perfect time right now with social distancing to practice serving.

With blocking, they’ve been one of the top teams for about the last 10 years and Andaya has always really valued that. He’s now shifting the focus a little bit so the team can improve in other aspects of the game.