Lakers to enter season ranked No. 8 in nation

GVL Archive
Junior Eno Umoh assesses her opponents during a past match.

GVL Archive Junior Eno Umoh assesses her opponents during a past match.

Zach Sepanik

Eight is great for the Grand Valley State University volleyball team. The team made it to the NCAA Elite Eight in last year’s national tournament and is currently ranked No. 8 nationally as the Lakers prepare for the 2011 season.

But the primary goal, however, remains the same: compete for a National Championship and spring past the success of last year’s squad.

“Ranking doesn’t really come up very much for our team,” said junior setter Olivia Kohler. “We have to kind of downplay it and don’t talk about it together, or make it anything bigger than it is. We were at Nationals last year, and that definitely makes us want to get back there this year.”

For this year’s returning players, it is a matter of improvement.

“Team-wise, we definitely want to finish higher than we did last year,” said sophomore libero Sacha Gill. “We are all talking and looking for a national championship this year. Personally, I want to do better than I did last year by passing better and getting more digs.”

The work the team put in this off-season will hopefully pay off, as it stayed busy during the summer months.

“The summer went well, just a lot of lifting and working out,” said redshirt junior middle hitter Eno Umoh. “We had a few scrimmages that went well. Even though teams went on runs against us, we pick ourselves up and are able to get back the points that we lost.”

The team lost several key players in the off-season to graduation while welcoming six freshmen and a pair of transfers, each of whom are expected to add depth and talent to help make a postseason run.

“Last year we had those go-to people, but this year everyone on the team is just as big of an asset,” Kohler said. “It will definitely be a little bit of contribution from everyone. Postseason is our biggest goal. We are working the whole season toward that.”

While the Lakers are a young team, their practice and work so far has been promising.

“I think our energy is so high out on the court,” Umoh said. “Even though it might be a young team, we are very mature. It is just trying to get a feel of this new team. Playing with each other is helping us pick up the things we need to work on.”

Now, with the season looming right around the corner, the team realizes what must be done to get to the National Championship stage.

“It will take hard work in the gym and we will have to make some sacrifices,” Gill said. “If we work hard and work as a team, because we have a really good team this year coming in, and if we keep communicating, getting our transfers and freshman comfortable, we will come together and hopefully it will work out.”

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