By Ayden Adams
The University of Findlay women’s volleyball team is currently 5-7 with a string of home games coming up. The team is working on rebuilding after losing four of the six starters from last year.
Journey Blevins, sophomore, 2021 AVCA Midwest Region Freshman of the Year and AVCA All-American honorable mention says the trip to Alaska showed some of their strengths and weaknesses.
“Most of the players who get play time, with the exception of a few juniors and seniors, are underclassmen; we struggle with leadership and having somebody consistently stable when things go wrong,” Blevins said. “We have a ton of athletic ability on our team and now we are putting all the parts and pieces together and finding team chemistry to make everything flow smoothly”.
“The first game (in Alaska) was the first time in our season that we started clicking and because of our underdog mindset, everybody played more relaxed and helped us in the long run,” Blevins said.
The Alaska trip was fully fundraised by the student athletes through various opportunities over the past seasons and summers according to Brandi Laurita Director of Athletics and Vice President of Student Affairs.
“(They did) everything from they did a golf outing, they actually did a car wash. So they do fundraisers or any donations that come in will fund the trip for them,” Laurita said. “It’s all fundraiser money being used.”
Once the Oilers chemistry started to bind together, the outcome of scores and team performance was a better end result. Although the Oilers did not come out victorious in all matches, the team started connecting before conference play.
The GMAC preseason coaches’ poll ranked UF second in the North division, following rival Hillsdale who clocked in as the favorite to win. The number one and two preseason ranked teams face off back-to-back days Oct. 28 and 29, playing at home the second day.
Freshman defensive specialist, Jaden Smith, contributes to the team by bringing energy on and off the court according to her teammates, and also being tough competition during the Oilers practice.
“With high school it is sometimes girls doing it for fun and here we all kind of have the same mindset of why we are here,” Smith said. “I think that makes a huge difference with high school and college with the level of play and where we all want to be at as a team.”
“Coach Wick always says every day when we get in the gym that we have to have a growth mindset and no matter if you’re on the court or you’re on the bench, you’re still contributing to the team,” Smith said.
The Oilers start conference play against Ursuline, followed by Tiffin, Lake Erie, and Walsh. The remaining team schedule is available on the Findlay athletics page.
The Oilers are looking forward to the rest of the season and a packed Niekamp Arena at every home game. The next home game is Saturday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. vs Lake Erie College. You can find the rest of the schedule here.