COLUMBIA — From outside the gym doors, the music sounded like it was blaring from a high school prom, but there were no extravagant dresses, no tuxedos and no disco balls.
Inside there were only the 21 members of the Rock Bridge girls volleyball team. After a 2-0 victory Sept. 2 against Jefferson City, they were half-stretching, half-dancing and looking forward to a match Thursday at Booneville. The team was all smiles. This is part of the new team attitude that senior captains Lizzie Frericks, Lauren Croll and Shelby Ringdahl are trying to create for a team trying to bounce back from a 3-13-2 season last year.
“I think that (having fun) is a direct reflection of how close the team is,” Croll said. “We’ve had a lot of drama on the team in the past, and this year I think that we are all on the same page and dedicated to making this year a great one.”
Added Ringdahl: “Everyone has an equal level of want, of desire."
The seniors think that the better the team gets along off the court, and the harder it works on the court, the more fun and success it will have.
“We don’t have a weakness,” Frericks said. “We have really good passers, really good hitters and really good blockers. Our setting is awesome. We have all the pieces, it’s all about putting them together for one common goal.”
The three captains are trying to change the mentality of the team. They encourage all of the players to hang out when they aren’t in the gym and cheer up the stressed or sad players by singing a round of Disney songs. Early in the summer, the trio met to develop a team motto. They based it off a famous rap song, Eminem’s “Till I Collapse.” They hope the resulting, “Till We Collapse,” will summarize how the team plays this season.
“They (the captains) are just always upbeat,” said sophomore and second-year varsity member, Nici Thaler. “They look at the positive side of everything, even if we’re losing. That is kind of what a captain has to be.”
Each of the three has her role as a captain on the court. Ringdahl and Frericks are the vocal leaders, shouting directions at the players, but also the first ones to light up their smiles and get the high-fives going in the huddle after a kill. Croll tries to inspire her teammates through her aggressive play from the back-line and her ability to put a hand on any ball that comes near her.
“We are all crazy, and we laugh,” Ringdahl said. “But we all know when to be serious. And when we’re down we can say ‘OK, let’s go. Let’s win this game.’”
If the Sept. 2 match at Jefferson City was any kind of indication of the impact this new mentality has had on the team, then a better season is surely in the works. Already up a game in the best-of-three match, the Bruins won eight-straight points to close out the match, after trailing in the second game 22-17.
“The Jeff City game was the most pumped this team has ever been,” Ringdahl said.
“It was not where we had to win,” Croll said. “We could have let that game slide and play another game, but we wanted it. And that’s the difference, we want it this year.”