Volleyball team uses this weekend’s road trip to connect, focus

Amanda Vasil

One large Greyhound. Thirteen eager girls. Blocking and hitting fresh on their minds.

Welcome to the Kent State volleyball bus.

The Flashes are traveling for the first time in the Mid-American Conference season this weekend, but rather than feeling nervous and homesick, they are ready and focused.

Traveling is enjoyable for the players because it gives them time for mental preparation for the game ahead. Being on the road also gives them the opportunity to develop stronger relationships off the court.

“Every time we have a trip, there’s something about the team that becomes more connected,” assistant coach Scott Carter said . “The focus is making this team a better team and understanding individual roles and significance to the team. Everyone has something that makes this team better.”

Senior outside hitter Danielle Holt said the team normally prepares for entire weekends away, but this weekend is different because they are back in Kent for a few hours today and will be able to attend classes.

“Usually, it’s crazy,” Holt said. “But right now we’re in more of a serious part of our season.”

While the weekend matches are its first priority, the team also dedicates time to academics. Players can often be found in study tables or with open books preparing for upcoming exams and quizzes.

“When we’re traveling, we’re away from anything that could possibly be a distraction,” Carter said. “It’s all about shared experiences away from their roommates, away from their professors, away from their boyfriends and away from their families. They use this as their chance to bond and connect as individuals and connect as a team.”

One of the ways the team is able to achieve these bonds are through scheduled stops at service stations during the trip to eat and stretch their legs. But instead of exiting the bus in various attire, the team dresses in uniform – whether it be matching sweats or T-shirts and spandex.

“We have to wear the same thing because we’re presenting ourselves as the Kent State volleyball team wherever we go,” said redshirt freshman outside hitter Vaiva Laniauskas.

The team is still working on combining its mental and physical elements on a consistent basis. In a 3-0 sweep against Ohio last night, the Flashes (5-9, 1-2 MAC) fell with scores of 30-15, 30-19, 30-25. The Bobcats (13-2, 3-0 MAC) continued their home winning streak to 32 and game-winning streak to 15.

The Flashes will board the bus again this afternoon to finish their weekend at Central Michigan.

Carter said he hopes the team will go into the match with a competitive mindset and come out of the weekend with a stronger sense of team unity and individual sacrifices.

“Central is definitely a beatable team,” Laniauskas said. “We just need to be ready to play as a team.

Contact volleyball reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected]