By Will Conerly
The GLVC Women’s Volleyball 37th annual conference tournament will take place this November.
Last year under new Hawks Head Coach Abby Moser, the team went 8-21 overall, and 5-13 in conference play; which did not earn them a spot in the postseason tournament.
This year, the team was motivated to not let history repeat itself.
“The team had a large goal of getting to the NCAA tournament, but didn’t have any small goals of how to get there,” Assistant Coach Tyler Fenton said.
Fenton may have completed the exact thing this team needed to do. Go on a really long road trip.
Fenton, who is in his first year, moved from Washington to Illinois at the end of July and completed a 26-hour road trip. Fenton and Moser decided that would be the exact thing the Hawks needed to reach their goals.
“We talked about the things that are in our control, not in our control, and things that we can find a way to control,” Fenton said.
During a road trip, one thing you can’t control is the roadblocks, something this team had to deal with right away.
“We went to Central Missouri for a scrimmage our second week of preseason and our bus actually broke down. And we kind of talked about it in the slideshow ‘hey your bus might break down’ or whatever this metaphorical experience may have, and funny enough we were on the highway leaving Central Missouri and our bus actually broke down on the side of the freeway,” Fenton said.
Once the road trip theme got developed, Moser and Fenton thought about the idea of having someone responsible for being the driver each week.
This is where a steering wheel comes into play, where a player (who is voted in by their teammates every Sunday night) will take the wheel and be the driver for the week.
“Well, being this weeks bus driver is an honor because it means my teammates have seen the hard work I’ve put in on and off the court. It is a confidence booster! I am excited because it means I’m the leader this week. I break out huddles, lead practices and warm ups,” Sophmore Kaeley Mueller, who is this weeks bus driver, said.
The theme continued to grow.
“After we established that we read a book called The Energy Bus, and the energy bus really played into our theme of everyone gets to drive their own bus. It’s all about who you invite on board, what it means for you to drive your bus,” Fenton said.
The driver is someone you can not miss. The wheel pops out at you. That is the point, it probes questions and allows the girls to be proud about earning the wheel for the week to drive the bus.
“The driver for us has been a cool thing because it’s not about necessarily being a captain or the leader, but its someone that every week the team gets to vote on not only if they performed well, but if it is somebody who was positive all week or somebody who crushed their academics that week, or if they just had a good week, in general, it doesn’t even have to be about volleyball,” Fenton said.
On such a long trip for the Women’s volleyball team, there will be many roads and drivers the team will have to utilize.
“We’re on one road for preseason, and then we take an exit. We make sure our goals are in line, we establish new goals and then we are on a new road for the first half of GLVC. Then we will get off, we will take another exit and take another road and we’ll go to crossover sometime mid October. We will have our goals for that weekend, we will take another exit, and we will be in the second half of GLVC until going to conference,” Fenton said.
With large rosters in college athletics, it is difficult to get everyone involved.
“We all have a car that we are supposed to keep on us at all times, and the goal is to be constantly reminded that we are all on this road trip and that everyone has one so we are all on it together,” Fenton said.
The team had an objective, they needed to go from point A to point B, and the in between is the road trip.
This metaphor seems to be working with the team with playing well early on, already having over half the wins they had last year through 11 games.
“Now when things happen we can say we literally have had a bus break down, so nothing should be able to derail us at this point,” Fenton said.
It processes over results at this point for the Hawks. The players will now be able to visualize their roadmap.
“We are actually getting a roadmap that is going in our locker room,” Fenton said.
The theme that has culminated around the QU women’s volleyball team is something that can be followed around.
Keeping this relevant will be the biggest factor in the team success with this initiative.
“How we can keep this as corny and as fun as possible while still being relevant in November when the tournament comes around is the most important thing,” Fenton said.