In their first official match in Augustana history, the men’s volleyball team fell 3 sets to 0 against Benedictine University on January 12.
Since Augustana introduced the club volleyball team in the 1990s, there has been an extensive wait to have men’s volleyball be an official varsity sport on campus. Head coach, Mark Lau, was a member of one of the first club teams at Augustana.
There was a lot of build up, excitement, nervousness, and anticipation around this first match. However, Lau and the team aren’t going to let this initial loss define their reputation. This was the first time the team played in front of a crowd together and there is much to learn from that different environment.
“I’d rather be challenged early on and learn and grow from it,” Lau said. “Winning and losing will happen on its own, but whether or not we learn from it is more of an active choice.”
The boys still have to learn how they play as a team in order to achieve Lau’s goal. In their first match, the players were able to distinguish what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then they can further learn how to grow from them. Freshman, Matthew Schiferl, said that the team had the challenge of dealing with nerves.
“There was an interesting mixture of nerves and excitement,” Schiferl said. “There were definitely a couple of moments when we’re flustered and overwhelmed, but overall we managed to keep our emotions in check.”
The players are learning how college volleyball works while also balancing how to work as a team. With 11 out of 13 players on the roster being freshmen, the pace of college athletics is new to the majority of the players.
“The goal for us was not only to win, but also to get used to college volleyball. Coach Lau really just wanted us to play our game and to not worry about what the other team was doing,” Schiferl said. “The fact that we were finally serving, passing, and hitting against different players made the intensity of the competition rise.”
To prepare for their first season, the last month of their pre season was focused on handling their nerves. In order to create more excited energy instead of nervousness, Lau had the team learn about mental preparation. They occasionally would mimic a real game setting by playing music during practice or having them practice in game jerseys.
“It will be a challenge, not of skill, but how we manage our energy and our emotions,“ Lau said. “We will try to limit the very random things that can throw you mentally.”
As for the rest of the season, the team wants to continue improving their skills and focus on the weaknesses shown in their first match. Freshman, Richard Baum, said the team emphasizes on controlling their emotions and playing effectively as a team.
“Our goal was to get our first game jitters out of the way and use the first game as guidance for practices,” Baum said. “Our goal is to get the cohesion and team chemistry that will scare the other teams.”
With the first match under their belt, Lau and the team hope that their nerves will be translated into excited energy for the upcoming matches.
“I can’t say that I’m not a little disappointed and angered by the end result, but I know that this is a huge learning point for the team, so it also excites me for what’s next to come,” Schiferl said.
The team’s first home meet will be on Saturday, January 20 at 1 PM in Roy J. Carver Center in Rock Island, IL.