TOPEKA (KSNT) – It’s a case of the same team, a new year for Washburn University volleyball.
Every player from 2020 returned to play in the 2021 season. The result is a long depth chart and a stuffed locker room.
“Our roster’s huge,” head coach Chris Herron said. “It’s going to be the biggest roster we’ve ever had, so depth is not going to be a problem this year.”
It was the opposite case for the COVID spring season. The players’ classes were not scheduled around practice, so girls were missing multiple days.
“Three days a week last spring, we didn’t have a setter,” Herron said. “We have to be really creative and innovative on how we could make our team better without a setter in the gym.”
The Ichabods still managed to go 14-5. It’s a quick turnaround to the fall, but multiple players said that has more pros than cons.
“We kind of got showed, very recently, what we need to improve on in order to be more successful within our conference, region and within the whole nation,” defensive specialist Faith Rottinghaus said. “We can really take that, and that’s still in our short-term memory.”
They practiced once per week for the majority of the summer. This kept their minds on volleyball, but let their bodies rest and recover. Since then, it’s been practice as usual, as if there wasn’t a gap year.
“Competing is what we live for,” middle hitter Allison Maxwell said. “We compete every day in practice, so we’re all so excited to be able to actually try to win.”
This practice schedule helped the team stay in shape, and that’s all they needed, according to 2019 All-American Genna Berg.
“We’re an older team, so the experience is going to help us out a lot and the skill will help take us the whole way,” she said.
Herron said there isn’t one player or group who will stick out because everyone puts in the necessary extra work.
“They’re a very competitive group, so we’re looking forward to a good year.”
Ichabod volleyball begins its season with an exhibition game at the University of Kansas on Aug. 20. Its season officially starts on Sept. 2 against Cameron University. Conference play begins Sept. 17. The full 2021 volleyball schedule can be found on the team’s website.