Olympus volleyball still struggling with mental game
Coaches and players attribute mental blocks as the reason for the poor showing at state. (Olympus High School)
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By Kelly Cannon | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Olympus High School volleyball team didn’t finish their season exactly where they wanted to after being eliminated in the first day of the state tournament. However, the entire team is happy with their third place position in the region. Players and coaches attribute the struggles with the team to their mental game.
“Our team is pretty good athletically but mentally we struggle,” said senior Clara Smith. “Volleyball is mostly a mental game because athletically you can train and you can have the skills but mentally, that’s half the battle. Mentally, I don’t know what it was. We tried to fix it throughout the whole year with team bonding and being a team. But usually when we start losing, we destroy ourselves mentally. It’s a spiral.”
During the regional tournament, Smith said their main competitors were Skyline High School and Murray High School. If the team had beaten Skyline, Smith said they could’ve been first in the region.
“That game was rough. We went in and we totally could’ve beat them. We knew we could. But mentally, it was just blocking,” Smith said. “We beat them one match and that was really cool. It was the first time we beat them in a match in a while. That was really fun and they played really hard. They were really close matches too.”
The mental aspect of the game is frustrating for many players, including junior Tessa Nebeker, who said the team has improved over the last few years.
“We’re al really talented players but sometimes it’s hard for us to work together and figure things out,” Nebeker said. “That was an issue we had to work through.”
Head coach Emily Kennington worked with her players throughout the year to try and improve not only the team’s competition but to also try and build the confidence of the players.
“I don’t think the girls know how good they really are, which is hard to try and transfer that, to not only teach them the sport but also try to teach them the mental aspect, how to be mentally prepared,” Kennington said. “We have a lot of versatile players who can play a lot of positions. We had a lot of depth, which is huge, especially for a volleyball team.”
The team is losing six seniors this year, which will take a toll on the team next year. However, Kennington believes in the talent of the younger players.
“We’ve got a ton of young girls who area really, really talented,” Kennington said. “I really do think we have a lot of young talent coming up so we’ll be pretty good next year.”
Smith, who is one of the seniors leaving, expressed sorrow leaving the team but felt positive about the season.
“It’s really sad because I’ve played since I was a freshman and being on the team and being involved, you feel like you have a place to be and you’re accepted. It’s really sad and state was really hard,” Smith said. “But we wanted to end strong and I think we did. We played really good and we beat a lot of teams and I feel good about the season.”