Volleyball Wraps Up Spring Season|
April 25, 2013
CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati volleyball team concluded its spring season in April after three months of practice and competition. The Bearcats played in six matches, hosted a youth volleyball clinic and even participated in a unified scrimmage with the Special Olympics of Hamilton County.
The team played in matches against Northern Kentucky University, Miami (Ohio), Morehead State, Western Michigan, Marshall and Butler.
Following the match against Butler, the Bearcats hosted a free youth clinic to teach kids the fundamentals of volleyball, explain techniques for a variety of positions, and create excitement around UC and the Bearcats’ Volleyball Program. Current UC volleyball players, as well as the coaching staff, led the event that saw over 30 participants.
The Bearcats closed out the spring season with a unified scrimmage with the Special Olympics of Hamilton County. The current players teamed up with athletes from the Special Olympics to play matches together.
Head coach Molly Alvey sat down to discuss the spring season, the team’s goals and the scrimmage with the Special Olympics of Hamilton County.
What were the goals of the spring season?
Molly Alvey: We had two huge goals for the team. One was consistency. We have a very young team, in age and just being new to the program. The minority of the players are upperclassmen. Consistency was a big goal for all of us in our respective positions, in how we become better volleyball players and be more consistent in what our job is for the team. The second goal was to become better teammates. This team really needed to work on what it meant to be a great teammate and to be a healthy contributing member of a team – coaches, players and staff, how they all relate to one another to build a program.
How were these goals accomplished during the spring?
MA: We did a lot of individual training combined with our team training. We were only working with eight players – and had one that was injured through a majority of the spring – so with seven players, it is a little difficult to mimic live volleyball. A lot of what we did was individual attention to detail and doing a lot of 1-on-1 training for our consistency. We did a lot of talking and teaching verbally as much as we did the physical training part. I think it went well, we created goals of bringing a purpose to practice every day and holding each other accountable as teammates. On the team side of things, everybody had the opportunity to be a leader of the week, where everyone got to come in and talk to the coaches confidentially and give their thoughts on the team, and where the team was individually – who was struggling and who was doing very well. We also made sure that every week, for almost three-quarters of the spring, there was a team event planned where everybody was invited and had an opportunity to participate. That went over really well. We also paired them up in groups with their teammates and they had to touch base with each other on a daily basis to learn more about each other volleyball-wise, academically and how to relationship build.
What does the team need to continue to work on during the summer to prepare for the fall season?
MA: I think we are so young and we don’t have as many upperclassmen, so we need confidence all-around. Upperclassmen are finding a new role for themselves in being forced into a natural leadership position and underclassmen are finding a lot of court responsibility early in their careers – which I think are two really great things. I think we are building camaraderie and we are building a sense of team. They all had these responsibilities put on them this spring, giving them ample time to prepare for the fall season. I think that is a big plus, building confidence and getting out the kinks of being a new team going into the fall. We also have seven newcomers entering UC this fall, so incorporating those players into what they have created for themselves during the spring is incredibly important.
What is your outlook on the fall season?
MA: We will be young; there will be a lot of learning to get through. But we have a lot of energy and excitement coming in. We also have a huge sense of belonging and I look for that piece of the team – loving being a UC student and loving being a UC volleyball player. I can feel that sense of pride. I think that will over compensate the natural learning curve of a new team. I am actually really excited for the fall and the team is excited to be back. We will have a tough schedule again. That is how I have always scheduled and will continue to schedule because in order to be the best you have to play the best. It doesn’t mean we have to win every match, but we have to get better playing those matches. As long as we are learning from each match, I think it will set us up to go into conference play as prepared as we can be.
Can you describe the experience you got with the Special Olympics of Hamilton County?
MA: We went to the Rost School and there were three different volleyball teams represented from Hamilton County. We showed up and were able to meet and mingle with the Special Olympics athletes to start the day. We went into warm-ups and our Bearcats warmed up the teams. We had a little bit of training and focused on passing and serving and then we actually played volleyball with them. We played unified volleyball, which is a part of the greater Special Olympics program. We had three UC Bearcats playing with three Special Olympics athletes. Everybody got to rotate in and play and we played four separate matches. Steve (Vencl) was the referee and Nicole (Miller) and I got to coach on the sidelines. We had an absolute blast. Our time with the Special Olympics has been so valuable to both sides of the relationship. We continue to work together to build our friendship and find new projects to grow the amazing connection we have already created. Look for our Special Olympics this fall at our UC matches.
What did the team learn from the unified scrimmage?
MA: Really, it was a time to learn, understand and build relationships and maybe even be enlightened a bit to understanding of all the different people that are in the world and how we relate to one another. It was a great feeling of camaraderie and excitement. The Hamilton County Special Olympics athletes and their families were just as excited to have us there as we were to participate. I have not seen a team that I have coached be so engaged and so drawn into what they were doing. Our Bearcats had a fantastic time. There was one special moment I would like to comment on because it was so unique. We had a prom proposal during the match! One of our Special Olympics athletes, Katie, secretly planned the proposal, snuck out of the gym during the match, brought balloons back into the gym and invited her friend Ben to prom. He said yes. Afterwards it was a lot of meet and greet – getting to say hello to the families and thanking them for allowing us to be a part of something so special.