The Bishop Ryan Lady Lions volleyball team has its eyes on a prize they’ve never had before, the class B state championship. Last season, the Lady Lions had their state championship dreams cut short after they lost in the first round of the district tournament.
With having a young team this year Head Coach Nick Theis said they have exceeded his expectations.
“I’ve just been floored. I think just to see them come out, I told them at the beginning we’re probably going to lose some that we shouldn’t lose and in terms of our regular season matches we really have played well night in and night out, we’ve had some close matches we went five that we thought maybe wouldn’t be as close but they’ve pulled it off in the end and so that was really good to see,” Theis said.
Theis said he knew the biggest thing these girls needed to focus on was keeping the jitters under control.
“Just nerves knowing that we were so young, we graduated five seniors, three of them played all six rotations and so we graduated a lot of court time so the youth and the court time was something I wasn’t sure how it was going to develop,” Theis said.
Players like Chinelo Udekwe and Magee Rovig said the seniors have helped calm a lot of the nerves they have during games.
“I think one of the strengths we have is our captains are very engaged and they all try to bring us up and I think we all feed off that and try to bring each other up and bring ourselves up,” Udekwe said.
“The seniors have a huge role of leadership, they are great leaders. They make everyone feel welcome and it’s just awesome playing with them, they’re great,” Rovig said.
Theis said his three captains this season have made a big impact both in games and at practice.
“Sydney had a great season, she’s leading in digs and kills. Magee with the number of assists she picked up, running a 5-1 has been phenomenal,” Theis said. “And then Berkley as a middle who is also now playing some back row which was new for her this year I’ve been very happy with everything they’ve produced and all our girls throughout have been fun to watch.”
Udekwe said the difference between winning or losing a game goes beyond the court.
“In a match, if you don’t have energy the whole time you start to get down then everyone shuts down,” Udekwe said. “When we keep having energy there are matches where we didn’t think we were going to win and we just kept having energy and we kept believing in ourselves and we ended up winning so I think that’s super important.”
And with the postseason within reach, Theis said they’re working on fine-tuning the little details.
“The biggest thing for us is we have to clean up our defense and serve to receive,” Theis said. “We know we have girls who can score, we have a great setter who runs the offense well it’s can we keep our serve aggressive, can we keep our serve receive in control, and can we defend some of the talented hitters we’re going to face.”
And the girls have confidence that if they stick together they can turn their dream into a reality.
“Just believe that we can do it. I think we are kind of holding ourselves back so all we got to do is fix that and we’ll be pretty good,” Rovig said.
“Keep our energy up. We have to keep any outside drama or whatever just keep it out and focus on the game. We have to continue to lift each other up and really lock into during practice,” Udekwe said.
The Lady Lions end their regular season on Tuesday, Oct. 19 when they travel to Kenmare and take on the Honkers.