In volleyball, ’Cats sweat the small stuff

Katy Thompson

Review Staff Writer

 

The Oct. 4 home game against George Fox University left a sour taste in the mouths of a few players. While some players were upset they lost their last four matches against George Fox, others realized they could redeem themselves by working to improve their personal shortcomings.

As an individual, junior middle blocker Emily Vuylsteke said her hitting ability is strong but her weakness is not being quick enough on her feet, leaving room for improvement.

Junior defensive specialist Liz Waddell said that the performance in the George Fox game was inconsistent.

“It was a good eye-opener.” she said.

Waddell said the team has always had a strong rivalry playing against the Bruins.

“This time we did some things better than we have done in the previous game against Pacific, but others we did not perform as well as we could have, like our passing skills,” Waddell said. “If we can work on getting good passes, not as sporadically but steadily and consistently, then we would automatically improve our game.”

Vuylsteke said the team is continuously striving to improve their strengths. Waddell and Vuylsteke agreed that having George Fox as an opponent is an incredible source of competition, as they have strengths Linfield lacks.

“George Fox draws upon their team’s ability to be really scrappy,” Waddell said. “Most other teams in our conference do not possess this strength.”

Vuylsteke said she defined “scrappy” as being able to dig a majority of the opposing team’s hits.

“They got every hit up off the ground as often as they possibly could,” she said. “They outplayed us by a just a few points, but I think we can take them next time around.”

Waddell said the highlight of the Linfield and George Fox game was the Wildcats’ persistence.

Vuylsteke finished with a team-high 14 kills and had a .444 kill percentage.

Freshman outside hitter Samantha Lau and senior defensive specialist Rachel Rahn teamed up for 38 defensive digs.

Waddell said this team can fight its way through the most difficult cicumstances.

“There were a few times I thought the game was over, like, when it was 18 to 23, with Linfield being down by five points, we could have given in to them and given up, but we did not,” Waddell said. “Instead, we fought and we made it a tied game at 23. I think this shows the heart our team has to win.”

This attitude of never giving up and pushing through the hard parts of the game may be inspired by the mentality of long-time head coach Shane Kimura.

“Kimura is really in tune with perfecting the fundamentals,” Waddell said. “He breaks it all down into really simple terms, and when you make a mistake, he encourages you to fix it. He is concerned with getting those little details fixed.”

Although Vuylsteke said she appreciates this aspect of Kimura’s coaching style, she thought the highpoint of the season had more to do with the players, not the players’ techniques.

“Rosa Gimson came off the bench and played well in the GFU game and helped our team out,” Vuylsteke said. “She really stepped up her game, and that just proves that we are a well-rounded team and not just fully reliant on our six starters, but we need all the bodies on our bench to come off the bench and play while stepping up their game.”

The players agree that as long as they can avoid getting comfortable with their ranking and keep coming to each game with nothing but their best, they will be able to improve. The women will face off against Whitman College on
Oct. 10 looking for their fourth conference win.

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