Young and restless

GVL / Archive
Courtney McCotter spiking the ball during a previous match against Hillsdale College last season.

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Courtney McCotter spiking the ball during a previous match against Hillsdale College last season.

Zach Sepanik

Winning with youth is something Grand Valley State University head volleyball coach Deanne Scanlon believes in, and heading into her 18th season at the helm at GVSU, she faces the task of leading one of her youngest teams ever at GVSU.

The Lakers will open the season with nine newcomers on the roster, including eight freshmen and a junior transfer.
“It is very possible to win with young kids and that is what our expectations are going to be,” Scanlon said. “Going through the season that we went through last year, they were not a part of that, but they are all very much aware that we can have a better year than last. If anything, maybe they have helped relieve a little of that pressure off the returners.”

After a tumultuous 2011 season, which saw the Lakers start the year ranked number eight in the country and finish with a 14-13 record, the focus has been on moving past the disappointment.

“We have a new focus and a new beginning,” Scanlon said. “The kids did what they needed to do to get in good physical shape and really focus every day when they come into the gym. We are looking at it as a fresh start and there is really not a whole lot of looking back.”

With Scanlon leading the Laker volleyball team from the sidelines, the three team captains — senior middle blocker Eno Umoh, junior libero Sacha Gill and junior middle blocker Abby Ebels — will shoulder a majority of the leadership both on and off the court.

“I am glad I am in this position and I am going to work hard to maintain my coach’s expectations and my teammates,” said Umoh, also the only senior on the team. “We are not to get ahead of ourselves and we need to take it one game at a time. We just need to get a consistent streak going.”

Even with the young makeup of the team, the Lakers return five starters from last season, giving the newcomers experience to learn from and a talent base to build off of.

“We know what we need to do to get back to what Grand Valley volleyball is all about — going to regionals, winning regionals, going to the national tournament every year,” said sophomore outside hitter Abby Aiken. “It is always in the back of our minds of what could happen like last year and what needs to happen. We need to work hard every day and keep our expectations high.”

The expectations will remain just that and the goals even higher amidst a new season with new faces and a whole new outlook.

“I definitely think we can win league this year,” Aiken said. “We scrimmaged against Hillsdale University and Ferris State University last week and we stood right with them whereas last year we kind of got blown out of the water. This year we are more confident and have more swagger.”

GVSU gets the season rolling on Friday at the Western Oregon Classic in Monmouth, Oregon, where they will open up against California State University, Los Angeles.

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