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Volleyball team aims for improvement after last season

By Joel Wright
On September 14, 2010

The Ottawa University volleyball team has begun the 2010 season with a 4-3 record through its first seven games.

The Lady Braves ended the Baker University Tournament this past weekend by winning their first two games 3-0 and 3-2 against Sterling College and McKendree University Friday. They lost the last two to Bethel College and John Brown University (Ark.) 0-3.

The team was picked to finish in fourth place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference , after gaining fifth place in the conference in 2009. Head Coach Tom Symons said that the pre-season ranking was a sign that OU has begun to play better, but should not be heavily looked upon.

"I think it's a good indication of what we did last year, but it doesn't mean a whole lot until the season's over," he said.

Shannon Donley, junior defensive specialist, said this year's team wants to improve on what it did last year, and that the women are taking a new mentality into every circumstance they face.

"Last year we finished fifth in the conference, and we're hoping to at least get fourth," she said. "We see ourselves as the underdog in every situation and we want to win every game in conference."

With a start to the season that has the Lady Braves record just over .500, Symons said he thinks that the team is becoming more of a cohesive unit, that will continue to improve over the course of the season.

"I think we're finally coming together and finding an identity," Symons said. "If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to be in good shape at the end of the season."

Donley would agree with that, saying this year's team is more comfortable in the direction Symons is leading.

"Last year was coach Symon's first year, and we were getting used to a different coaching style," she said. "We lost only three girls, and the freshmen we brought in have a lot of potential."

One of those freshmen, Paige Mead, said her first season as a college athlete has gone well so far.

"So far it's been pretty good," said Mead, a defensive specialist from Grain Valley, Mo. "It's way different expectations-wise.The coaches expect more from you."

The Lady Braves played their first home game Tuesday against McPherson College after The Campus went to the presses.

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