Olson: ‘We didn’t expect to as rough a time in conference play’
Disappointment and optimism.
These were two of the words uttered by CMU volleyball coach Erik Olson following his team’s early exit from the Mid-American Conference tournament Tuesday.
“I am disappointed that we lost in the first round,” Olson said. “We were a good team this year, just inconsistent.”
Inconsistencies plagued the squad the entire season, with an up and down streak of wins and losses. At the beginning of the season the team went a paltry 0-3 before winning their next four matches. This back-and-forth trend continued all season as they finished with a 14-15 overall record, going 8-8 in the MAC.
Olson said the competitiveness in the MAC is something that was unexpected going into the year.
“We didn’t expect to have such a rough time in conference,” Olson said. “The schedule ended up being very challenging for this group.”
Despite their below .500 overall finish, the team received its highest RKPI ranking of 79. This ranking judges a team’s competitiveness in their matches, a number which has steadily risen since Olson came to CMU in 2004.
The Chippewas graduate two seniors this season, with outside hitter Lauren Krupsky and defensive specialist Lisa Johnson parting after four strong seasons.
Krupsky will end her career with a team-high 366 kills on the season, and a total of 1223 for her career. She currently sits in the eighth all-time in CMU’s kills leaders. For Johnson, she ended her season with 327 digs for a career total of 828 and the No. 7 spot all-time in school history.
Junior Kaitlyn Schultz spent the past three seasons playing with both Krupsky and Johnson and was appreciative Tuesdsay of the time spent playing with them.
“I think they are the hardest workers on the team and I’m really going to miss them,” Schultz said. “It’s just been a great experience playing with both of them.”
But with the loss of such valuable seniors, Olson said that it will give the juniors on his team time to step up and become leaders.
“They’re going to become the rock of the program and I am very confident about what they can do,” Olson said.
Olson will be able to fix many of the problems the team had with the depth of their roster and is expecting big things from many of his players next season. He looks to shore up play from his setter position, one that he was unsure about until pre-season play. Sophomore Catherine Ludwig played the majority of the matches as the setter, something Olson said required a learning curve.
“I think Ludwig had a lot of ups and downs this season,” he said. “She certainly got better, but with that said, we have a lot of things we need to work on that come from the setting position.”
The play of the middles and blocking will be key in 2011, with the return of Danielle Gotham and the emergence of Jocelyn Vervelde. Gotham did not see any action this season due to an ankle injury. Vervelde made a few appearances throughout the season, and Olson is expecting big things out of her next season.
“Were looking forward to a great off season from Vervelde, to really shape her up technically,” Olson said.
The addition of Gotham and Vervelde, with the return of Schultz, will aid in the blocking squad that will need to improve vastly if they wish to make a run in the 2011 MAC tournament.
“The biggest area our group needs to work on is blocking,” Olson said. “For as athletic as we are, we have got to control the net much better than we did.”
The team will not return to practice until the first week of school in 2011, when they start offseason workouts in the Events Center.
Although the finish was not what Olson had imagined, he said that it was certainly an interesting season and he is excited for getting back to work in 2011.
“In some respects it is the best season we have ever had,” Olson said. “In other respects I am very disappointed that we didn’t get to Toledo.”
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