The University of Mary Washington volleyball team got their 2011 campaign off to an impressive start, winning each of their first four matches this past weekend. The Lady Eagles dismantled Mary Baldwin College 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-17). Eastern Mennonite University met the same 3-0 fate (25-18, 25-22, 25-17), as did Salem College (25-17, 25-17, 25-13). Philadelphia Biblical College put up the most resistance, but UMW still edged the Crimson Eagles 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-17, 21-25, 15-9).
“When we left for the tournament, our number one goal was to start to create something for the year,” Head Coach Dee Conway said. “This past weekend was a start to what we hope to accomplish, but it was only a start. We won’t give it back, but we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
Junior Laura Gomez (37 kills, 12 digs) and senior Katie Shiflett (90 assists, 21 digs) were two of the more outstanding players over the four-game stretch for the Eagles, and both were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Conway was also quick to heap praise upon senior Tola Adebanjo (24 kills, 36 digs) and freshman Emma Tennant (25 kills). According to the longtime coach, Tennant’s play was even better than what the stats indicated, as the middle hitter is crucial to the Eagles offense.
“It feels great to know that my coach has such confidence in me that I would get an opportunity to play as much as I did in this last tournament,” Tennant said. “I certainly wasn’t expecting to play this much at our first tournament, and I am happy that I had a chance to play with encouragement from my entire team.”
Though UMW cruised for the most part in their opening weekend, Conway still thinks that her team has room to grow and improve in the coming weeks, both defensively and offensively.
“We absolutely need to tighten up our defense. Not only our team defense, but we also have some individual issues to work through,” Conway said. “On offense we are still trying to figure out who we are and how we mesh as a unit.”
The volleyball team had their first home game of the season last night, and their first event in the new William M. Anderson Center, and dismantled conference foe Marymount University 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-14). The win made the Eagles 5-0 on the young season.
UMW is hoping that the new facility can prove to be a good home court advantage, and according to Conway, the Eagles have lofty goals that could see them playing in their new home all the way into the middle of November.
“What team doesn’t want to get to the NCAA Tournament?” Conway said. “We’re hoping that by the end of this, we’ll have what it takes to be there. In the meantime, we’re going to take it one match at a time, one set at a time, and one point at a time. We’re just going to keep building from that, and we believe that if we do everything that we can do that we’ll be where we want at the end.”
The volleyball team’s next game will be another home bout, as they host Randolph-Macon College at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.