Demons set for conference tilt
The Washington volleyball team opens its conference slate at Mt. Pleasant, Tuesday.
The Demons will welcome facing a league foe as they are in the midst of a five-match losing streak against nonconference teams.
Its lone win came against Centerville. It won by two in the first game and by three in the final game.
Norwalk played them twice at the Grinnell tournament, Thursday, Aug. 29. Norwalk swept them in both matches. The closest game was four points; the other scores were 10, 13 and 9.
At the Wapello tournament, Tuesday, Sept. 2, it failed to win one game. The Demons lost 11-21 and 15-21 to Central Lee. Against Wilton they fell 15-21 twice.
Washington dropped a pair of games to Columbus 16-21 and 5-21.
Despite the recent losing streak, Washington head coach Julianna Berg is upbeat.
“Every game gets a little better,” she said. “We are not focusing on the other team or the score. We are focusing on, are we carrying over these things we worked on in practice into the games.”
With it being Berg’s first year at the Washington helm, early season games are unfinished products. A new coach and a team experience a lot of growth by the end of the year.
“I’m not worried about playing great at the beginning of the season,” she said. “It’s more important to bring that together at the end of the season.”
One thing that has remained constant in the early season is the battle to break into the starting lineup.
“We are still kind of tinkering with the lineup a little bit,” she said. “I tell the girls, ‘If you want to come in and have a position you have to fight for them. You have to show me that you want it.’”
Some players are being asked to fill new positions as Berg tries to find her best starters.
“They learn to adapt a little bit every time,” she said. “There are a bunch of things that go into a lineup: chemistry, attitude and skill level.”
The libero — defensive specialist — position is still up for grabs among several seniors.
She avoided naming players competing for specific positions because she didn’t want to commit any player to a single position.
A day prior to the match with Fairfield, she didn’t have a set lineup. Berg does have an open door to girls seeking advice for playing time.
“Definitely, those girls come in and I’m always open for them to approach me and say, ‘What can I do to get out on the court?’” she said.
The attitude given off by Berg is a positive vibe, despite the early season growing pains.
“I don’t want to say it’s a rebuilding year,” she said. “I don’t think so. It’s a year where the girls are getting used to new coaching and styles. The girls have come in and adapted well. They have taken well to all the things we talk about. They have picked them up and are running with it.”
With continued improvement a winning mark is obtainable.
“Absolutely, there is no question in my mind about it,” she said. “I come in and talk to these girls every day. I tell them, ‘I really need your focus from the moment you step on the court. I have you for two hours or less every day.’”