Volleyball playing better than last year, still looking to improve

By Emily Larkin, Staff Writer

The Newman volleyball team fell Tuesday in a close match against Pittsburg State University. The Jets fell to the Gorillas after losing three games and winning two during the match. This loss brings the Jets’ overall match record to 14 losses and 0 wins, with 11 game wins and 42 losses.

Head coach Jose Lugo said that statistically, the team is better this year than last year but since Newman moved into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), it is playing harder competition.

“We won two matches last year and won 13 games in those matches and we’ve already won 11 games this season, and we still have over half of a season left,” Lugo said.

Lugo said there are at least four teams that are ranked in the top 15 in the country in volleyball that are in the MIAA. Though this has posed challenges, he said, it has also come with advantages.

“In terms of the mentality, I think the team knows we are playing better competition than we did before. I know that it is impactful with recruiting,” he said. “We have a lot of recruits that are excited about the possibility of coming to Newman because we are in the MIAA.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Mackenzie Anderson said that the team is pushing forward no matter what the numbers may say.

“We are working together every day to get better whether it’s in practice or a game,” she said. “We are looking towards the future and not letting our record define us.”

Lugo said that though they have a young team mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores, the messaging is the same as it was last year.

“I think that the message still has to be the same of us continually trying to do a little bit better every day in practice, every day in the gym, every day in a match,” he said. “If we can just continue pushing that across, hopefully, we can see a result there this season.”

Lugo said there hasn’t been just one person who stands out but rather it has been a group effort.

“We haven’t had a match yet where we’ve had just five people doing great things at once. It’s been two people doing it one match and two different people doing it in another match and so on,” he said. “It’s been a real collective.”

The volleyball team will take on No. 3 ranked Washburn University at 6 p.m. on Friday in Fugate Gymnasium at Newman.

“With a team like that, we just say, ‘We know they’re good but we just have to do us.’ We don’t have to match what they can do because then you are just chasing ghosts,” he said. “If you do good enough things, you can get some stuff done.”

Lugo said they are always striving to do the best they can to represent Newman well.

“We have to be the best version of us we can be and if we do that, then we’re competing,” he said. “If we’re competing, then we’ve got a chance and that’s all we are looking for.”

PHOTO: Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief