Volleyball team optimistic for rest of season, conference

Kaelia Neal, Sports editor

The Wildcats are working towards coming together as a team and finding the chemistry they need in order to have a successful season.

The ‘Cats went 0-4 in the Puget Sound Premiere Tournament Sept. 11 and 12.

Linfield lost to the University of Puget Sound 20-25, 22-25, 28-30, Pacific Lutheran University 25-23, 16-25, 18-25, 25-19, 9-15, Trinity University (Texas) 15-25, 23-25, 21-25, and The University of Texas (Dallas) 23-25, 21-25, 11-25.

With a new, young team, the women struggled to find the chemistry they needed to win.

“We faced some setbacks like struggling to sideout and string together good plays in order to pull ahead,” junior setter Casie Gaza said.

“We had issues staying consistent,” junior hitter Molly McTaggart said. “If we could play at a high level through the whole match, we could be a good team. We just need to get some continuity and consistency to be competitive this season.”

After ending the season 9-7 in conference play in 2014, the Wildcats look toward goals of being an even stronger team than last season and placing in the top of the Northwest Conference.

Coach Shane Kimura said the goal is to have a winning season.

Kimura said Caiti Barrie, Gaza, McTaggart, Quinn Takashima, Jamie Talbo and Courtney Uyeda are the returning top performers from last season. He expects Barrie, Uyeda and Takashima to lead the team.

The team goal is to finish top-three in the NWC and to bond as a second family, Gaza said. “We’ve got a great bunch of girls and now we’re just working on putting everything together and cleaning up some of our unforced errors.”

“We are figuring out what areas we are strong in and where we need to improve to be successful in our conference,” McTaggart said.

With a tough preseason schedule, the team should be ready for conference play Kimura said. Gaza said the team is playing teams that are competitive nationally. “We’re preparing for conference play just by being competitive amongst each other at practice,” Gaza said.

The Wildcats faced competitive teams at the Austin College Classic, where the team went 2-2 in Sept. 4 to Sept. 5 in Sherman, Texas.

“We were happy with that because we learned a lot about our team and we made improvements from Friday to Saturday in the tournament,” McTaggart said.

The team defeated Schreiner University 25-22, 25-14, 25-14 and McMurry University 25-18, 25-19, 29-27. Linfield lost to Texas Lutheran University 23-25, 25-23, 20-25, 22-25 and Austin College 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 13-25, 13-15.

Next up, the team has a few days of rest before it faces Pacific University, who finished ninth in the NWC in the 2014 season. The match starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at Linfield.