Opening round exit
FORT MADISON — Washington’s season ended with a first-round loss against Fort Madison 3-0.
There were recurring negatives from Washington but continued growth as a team.
“There were so many positive things,” said Washington head coach Julianna Berg. “I’m seeing girls take nice swings on balls they would normally swing at, making really smart plays that carry over from practice. From day one to now, our serving has gotten so much better. They go back there with so much confidence.”
Junior Lauren Swan, junior Sydney Hoffman and senior Michelle Holland went a combined 15-of-15 on serves.
Hoffman had a team-best six kills and had the second-most digs with six.
“Last night Fort Madison played really well,” Berg said. “They came out and seemed like they were firing on cylinders. Just to give them a little credit.”
The Bloodhounds posted wins of 25-10, 25-11 and 25-16.
It was the last game for seven graduating seniors.
“They had such a huge impact on this team,” Berg said. “They did such a great job of helping to set a solid foundation. They were all such great girls and amazing people. They really stepped up into that senior leadership role that you want to see.”
Berg, who was in her first year of coaching, said everyone had an equal playing field.
“Everyone on our team was on the same page,” Berg said. “We had the same advantages and disadvantages, the same time we got to work together.”
Berg said a player’s age doesn’t factor into any of her decisions as a coach. Washington finished 5-25 in her first year at the helm.
“I’m pleased with everything that we did,” Berg said. “I don’t think our record reflects how we were as a team. We made such huge strides and improvement. We took this year to really set a foundation and build on.”
The Senior Night win against Keokuk, Oct. 17, and the win over Fairfield, Sept. 21 in the Ottumwa tourney were the team’s highlights of the season, according to Berg.
“Those are the games you go back to, that you want to have those feelings,” Berg said. “You want to be in the zone like you were in those games — get lost in the moment.”
Some weaknesses that were evident was the pattern from the team to be too serious and get off to bad starts.
“For us, we came out flat,” Berg said. “I think the girls put a little too much pressure on themselves. They were kind of afraid to win. We couldn’t get anything going,” Berg said. “Anything that could go wrong for us went wrong. It was one of those nights where things don’t come together. Bad luck.”
Berg’s passion for the game was clear even in a losing season.
“I enjoyed it,” Berg said. “I enjoyed all the players. I absolutely love the game of volleyball. It was a great season.”