Virginia Tech volleyball coach Chris Riley believed that if his team had over a .250 hitting percentage last weekend at the Middle Tennessee State Invitational, they could come home undefeated.
In their opening game of the tournament the team hit .484, and when play ceased at the end of the weekend the Hokies hit .316 and came back 4-0.
“We were consistent this weekend,” Riley said. “We played low error and didn’t give away too many free points.”
After starting the season 3-1 at the Hokie Invitational in late August, the Hokies second consecutive tournament championship has them off to a 7-1 start on the season.
“Every player can play at every level and be successful,” Riley said. “We just have to fine-tune some things and continue to get better and better.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the team for senior middle blocker Victoria Hamsher is how successfully the team was able to put their loss to Michigan State behind them.
“We were able to put stuff behind us and play our game,” Hamsher said.
Hamsher believes that the biggest difference between this year’s team and the one from a year ago is the play of the freshmen. Five of the 16 players on the roster are freshmen.
“We’re young and tough,” Riley said. “The University of Alabama at Birmingham (game) helped us to see where we are. It showed us that we are able to calm down. Our leadership didn’t get rattled. You’re going to lose some games — you just have to be able to turn off the bad.”
The team did just that this weekend, as they were able to capitalize on one of their biggest goals of the weekend: commit fewer errors.
“We improved on error control the most,” senior outside Samantha Gostling said. “We didn’t have as many errors this week as we did in the first tournament.”
The team committed 61 errors this weekend compared to 72 a week ago.
With two tournaments behind them, Tech heads into the weekend hosting its second tournament of the season. As always, the team will rely on its quick tempo offense, which allowed them to find their niche over their competition.
Gostling also said that the offense helped out this weekend.
“We had wide open swings which makes it easier for us to score,” Gostling said.
Riley credited much of the team’s success this weekend to their balanced attack and quick tempo offense.
“Jordan (Fish) has been running a well balanced offense,” Riley said, referring to his junior setter.
Though the Hokies have been playing very well lately, they still know that there are aspects of their game that need to be improved.
“We still have to improve on consistency and playing at the same level no matter what,” Fish said. “We have pieces of greatness — we just have to put them together consistently.”
Riley said that if the team serve receives well and plays at the same level of consistency that they did this past weekend, they should have a chance to win.
“This weekend will be a real challenge to us mentally,” Hamsher said. “We don’t know much about them, but unlike these past two tournaments where we had a physical challenge, we will have to be prepared mentally to come out on top.”
The team will open up the tournament with Lipscomb Friday at 7 p.m. before taking on William & Mary and Dusquesne later in the weekend.
“If we come in and are focused on ourselves and play the way we know we can, it will be a successful weekend,” Fish said.
Hamsher said that if the Hokies serve tough and put pressure on the other team, they will be able to come out on top.
“We need to go out there this weekend with high energy and few errors,” Gostling said. “We also need to have fun. When we have fun, we play smarter.”