Cougars ready for test vs. McKendree

Wednesday, September 22, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:29 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Columbia College’s volleyball match against McKendree College today will likely be a test of patience vs. pressure.

The Columbia College volleyball team tries to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. McKendree tries to force their opponents into making them.

When the two teams meet at 7 p.m. today in The Arena of Southwell Complex, the team that gets its way could have the advantage in the match.

The Cougars (11-1 overall, 1-0 conference) play a 5-1 option offense, where the goal is to force the opposition to commit to a spot on the court, then hit the ball where they aren’t.

This offense calls for the middle blockers to decide what part of the court the ball will go to and for the setter to call the plays.

McKendree (4-10, 2-0 conference) runs the triple-quick offense with three outside hitters on the court, Columbia College coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. Running the triple-quick offense creates many one-on-one matchups with McKendree’s outside hitters against Columbia College’s middle blockers, keeping consistent pressure on the opposing team, preventing it from setting up its offense.

“They’re going to be strong and they’re going to push out hard,” Wrye-Washington said. “We’re going to need to serve aggressively to keep them out of their offense.”

McKendree finished third in the American Midwest Conference last season and returns four starters. Though the Bearcats are six games under .500 they have lost their last four.

The Cougars have won their last five matches despite playing in less-than-ideal gyms.

The side courts the Cougars played on at the Graceland University Invitational in Lamoni, Iowa, on Sept. 10 had a lower-than-normal roof, forcing players to adjust how hard they hit the ball, and a floor supported by concrete, making dives for the ball risky.

Despite those hindrances, freshman Nancy Sikobe said Missouri Baptist University’s gym, where the Cougars played Saturday, was the worst gym she’s ever played in.

“It was a big distraction,” Sikobe said. “The floor was OK but the ceiling was not.”

The ceiling at W.L. Muncy Jr. Gymnasium is low enough to cause too many of the volleyballs hit there to be replays because of ceiling interference.

“We get mad because everything we hit is a replay,” senior middle blocker Shana Aubrey said. Aubrey also called Missouri Baptist’s gym the worst she has played at.

Though the Cougars will have a home-court advantage against McKendree, Wrye-Washington said playing difficult gyms has benefits.

“We almost get too comfortable at home,” Wrye-Washington said. “We aren’t used to defending our home court.”

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