A new era is set to begin this weekend for the volleyball team. Recently hired coach, Melissa Batie-Smoose, will lead her team to Colorado on Friday for a three-game tournament against Pac-10 foes Fresno State, Colorado and Northern Arizona. Coming off a 5-21 season, the team looks to head in a new direction under its new leader.
“Our main goal is really to change the culture,” Bati-Smoose said. “This year we are going to start focusing on the little things rather than the end results. When you take care of the little things the other stuff will work itself out in the end.”
Juniors Kelly Marble and Brittany Fox and sophomore Kelly Reinke represent the three captains on the squad. They too echo their coach’s call for focusing on the little things instead of winning or losing.
“Practices are much more competitive and our work ethic is a lot better this year,” Fox said. “We are really focused on the journey and not as much about the end result.”
“I think we are a lot more organized this year,” Marble said. “Our coach really brings the best out of us with her more competitive and aggressive practices.”
Batie-Smoose looks to create a very competitive culture through aggressive and fast-paced practices. She hopes to focus her team on scoring more points on their serve as well as maximizing touches during practices.
Batie-Smoose said that she believes that the team is strong at the net, but could use a little work on defense and passing. Her new change direction is being seen in the players’ new mentality.
“We have a more aggressive mentality to our serves,” Marble said. “We are not just trying to get points, but we are trying to earn them.”
With only two seniors on the team the squad does lack experience on the court; however, that does not seem to be a concern, according to Fox.
“Everyone is finding a leadership role on this team,” she said. “We all work off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
“Not having experience will always hurt you,” Batie-Smoose said. “But, when you are taking over a program it is good to have that youth there and create the culture that you want.”
For this weekend’s tournament, the team looks to try out new things and switch up the lineups to see what works and what does not.
The Ivy League play does not begin until Sept. 22 when the Red plays at Columbia. Despite the failures in recent years to have a strong showing in the Ivy League play, the team remains confident in its approach and the players think it will pay off against the Ivy League teams.
“I feel like everyone has a shot at the Ivy League,” Reinke said. “There is not a huge gap between the worst and best teams. We just have to maintain our competitive mentality throughout the season in order to compete.”
Last season Yale dominated the league with a 12-2 record whereas Cornell struggled at 3-11. That record was under previous head coach, Sarah Bernson, who had three consecutive losing seasons.
Batie-Smoose owns a 81-43 overall record coaching at the Savannah College of Art & Design. She also won Sun Conference Coach of the Year in 2009 when she led her team to a conference title.