Volleyball has started practicing and preparing itself for the upcoming season after last year’s late season struggles erased a strong start.
Going into this season, the team looks to make up for the disappointing finish to its 2012 campaign, just two years removed from winning the Mid-American Conference Championship.
Head coach Erik Olson does not shy away from explaining his goals for his team this year.
“Our expectations are to contend for a championship as we always do,” Olson said. “You’ve got to be playing good ball at the end of the season, and I think the team certainly wants to get that elusive regular season title as well, but that’s a very tough, tough thing to do.”
The Chippewas started off last year in ideal fashion, winning six of their first 10 matches, including victories in the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament, The Adidas Michigan Challenge and the Courtyard Midtown Invitational, but they were unable to keep up the consistency as the season progressed.
CMU began the conference schedule with an impressive six-game winning streak, only to go on and lose five of its final nine matches with an early MAC Tournament exit.
“I really like how we played the first half, and I was really disappointed with the six-match losing streak,” Olson said.
With the losing streak to end the season, the Chippewas peak came earlier than Olson or his team would like.
Despite last season’s setbacks, CMU has plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
They have a strong senior core of players, including setter Kelly Maxwell, libero Jenna Coates, middle blocker Danielle Gotham and outside hitter/middle blocker Katie Schuette, who is returning from an injury for her fifth year of eligibility.
The team also has a fairly large group of underclassmen on the roster this year. With a total of eight, it is more than it has seen in recent years.
This does not take away from any expectations the coaching staff has had so far this preseason.
“I think we’ve got a good team,” Olson said. “I think we’ve got some good chemistry going, and I’m excited to see what we look like.”
The Chippewas can look forward to this season with optimism. With the addition of assistant coach Mitch Kallick, CMU is seeking another MAC title, and Kallick has some games marked on the calendar.
“The Western (Michigan) match I hear is always a little contentious and always a little aggressive,” Kallick said. “I’m looking forward to becoming a part of that rivalry at the same time.”
Kallick, a 2002 graduate of New York University, brings years of collegiate volleyball experience to the table. His previous coaching experience includes stops at NYU, Maryland, Cal-State Fullerton and Tennessee. He has also been responsible for the recruiting of two top-50, as well as six top-150 recruits.
Olson doesn’t have any particular games circled on his schedule. But if he did, it would be one circle around August-November.
“Every one of the games are important,” Olson said. “I can’t wait to play every single match.”
Now the Chippewas are preparing for their annual Maroon and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, shortly followed by their season opener on Friday, Aug. 30 against Oakland University at the Oakland Invitational.
“We’ve had great training so far,” Olson said. “I think the key is starting the regular season as a healthy team; we’ll see how that goes.”