When your sport requires you to ram your knees into the ground to dig a ball, force every muscle of your body into a spike and make quick moves with your feet to react to another team’s play, it can certainly start to wear on you. Especially when your team is 34 matches into its season.
Just ask the Columbia College women’s volleyball team, which beat Harris-Stowe State 3-0 Tuesday night at Southwell Complex in a first-round American Midwest Conference Tournament match.
“It really makes you tired,” outside hitter Nancy Sikobe said. “Your body has to be in good shape to play volleyball.”
The Cougars quickly dismantled the Harris-Stowe State Hornets in the first two games, 30-9 and 30-16. So coach Melinda Wrye-Washington decided to take advantage of the opportunity to sit some of her star players during the third game.
“It’s good to give some players a rest.” Wrye-Washington said. “They’ve been working hard, and I think sometimes they need the rest. It was nice to be able to give them it and get everyone else in the game at some point.”
Resting some players meant other Cougars got to play more often than usual in Columbia College’s 30-10 victory in the third game, which was the case for freshman outside hitter Brenda Crosby.
Crosby entered midway through Game 3 and immediately made her presence known. Crosby had her adrenaline flowing with excitement, and she racked up kills on two of the first three points she was in.
“It’s exciting to get a chance to play,” Crosby said. “We work hard in practice to try to get the chance to play in a game. So when we do, we try to prove ourselves.”
Wrye-Washington said she wanted to reward the players like Crosby who work hard in practice but don’t get much playing time.
“Everyone works hard and tries to get to play more,” Wrye-Washington said. “Tonight, we were able to reward them by letting them play in the game.”
The Cougars have six freshmen, and therefore a lot of players who have no college experience. It takes matches like Tuesday night for them to ever see the court.
“They’re still learning the speed of the game,” Wrye-Washington said. “That’s why I wanted them in there.”
The Cougars earned the right to play the 1-38 Hornets in the first round of the tournament by finishing 14-0 in conference play during the season.
“Getting the No. 1 seed was huge,” Wrye-Washington said. “We get home-court advantage all the way through the tournament.”
Columbia College will next take the court at 7 p.m. Thursday when it faces the winner of the William Woods and Illinois-Springfield match.