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Side Out w/ the Ladies: Coach Jon Stenman
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Growing Pains

Well, we are about a quarter of the way through the season and we have seen our share of ups and downs.  After our opening tournament, where we came out of the gates quickly the first day only to play flat the next, we still had a .500 record and a lot of positives to build upon.  We followed our tournament showing with our best performance to date against Grambling.  We were firing on all cylinders and swept the match in 3 sets.  I was feeling very confident in the team's psyche and abilities heading into our first Summit League match.   However, I had no idea that the injury bug was going to come hanging around.

Injuries are a part of athletics.  As well as us coaches try to avoid them at all costs, sometimes freak accidents happen.  Our accident occurred the day before our first home match against Western Illinois.  What started as two players hustling to continue a play, turned into a concussion to one of our starters.  A trip to the trainer's room confirmed the bad news; she had to miss the weekend's matches. Normally, a weekend consists only of two matches, but as our luck would have it, we had 4 matches scheduled. 

There is no worse feeling for a coach than to scramble to a solution.  With no time to practice with a new lineup, the Ladies took the floor against the Leathernecks looking to improvise their way to a win.  This is where the growing pains began and a long weekend would ensue. 

When a starter comes out of the lineup, the remaining team members are forced to pick up the slack and play out of their comfort zones. Often times, this means adjusting on the fly with little or no time to adjust.  With no practices due to our game schedule, the only way to learn was OCT; on the court training.  Learning on the court as the game progresses can be very mentally challenging and considering the fact that we played 4 matches in 3 days, I applaud my team for their effort.  Asking veteran players to adjust on the fly is hard enough, but it is especially tough when you already have players playing new positions.

Now that our injured players are back, I hope that we can find the same chemistry that we had against Grambling.  I saw glimpses of it in our match against Southern Utah.  As the match progressed, we got more and more comfortable and started to play with the hard-hitting Thunderbirds.  Unfortunately, we could not escape with a victory, but as the growing pains decrease, I think that these Ladies will find a way to win sooner than later. 

-Head Coach Jon Stenman