If routine matters in winning volleyball, Columbia College seems to be ignoring the rule.
The Cougars have yet to play with their full lineup and various injuries have forced coach Melinda Wrye-Washington into numerous lineups and player arrangements.
When the Cougars begin play in the Houston Baptist University Invitational today, they will again try something different.
“I wouldn’t say the rotation changes and injuries are a distraction,” senior setter Tracie Ford said. “You have to get used to playing with whoever is out on the court with you.”
For the tournament, at least, Wrye-Washington said freshman Nancy Sikobe will move from outside hitter to middle blocker, junior Tracy Branson will switch from setter to outside hitter and junior Katherine Weisenborn will take Branson’s place as the back-up setter and will also see time at defensive specialist and libero.
Weisenborn hasn’t played a point all season because of plantar faciitis in both feet.
“I’m going to focus on just being back on the court and on my passing game,” Weisenborn said.
Wrye-Washington said with Weisenborn’s experience, she isn’t worried about the junior’s ability after the layoff.
“(Weisenborn) is a two-year starter and started in last year’s national championship game,” Wrye-Washington said. “She should adjust to being on the court just fine.”
Ford said Sikobe should also adjust well since the freshman was originally trained as a middle blocker.
“We should be aided by Nancy in the middle,” Ford said.
The No. 6 Cougars will not be the only nationally ranked team at the tournament.
The Cougars will face No. 7 Houston Baptist University at 7 p.m. Saturday and No. 14 Lubbock Christian University at 11 a.m. Saturday in Houston.
“The level of competition builds as we go,” Wrye-Washington said. “Houston Baptist has some huge middles who can control the court, so we’re going to have to serve aggressively.”
The Cougars’ opponents today will be University of St. Francis of Joliet, Ill., at 11 a.m. and Wayland Baptist University of Plainview, Texas, at 5 p.m.
Ford said neither of the unranked opponents should be underestimated.
“We can’t look past any team,” Ford said. “We have to play every team in the tournament like they are the best team in the tournament.”