COLUMBIA — Last week while most students were at home enjoying their Thanksgiving break, members of the Columbia College volleyball team were sweating through two-a-days and three-hour practices in preparation for the NAIA National Tournament that is taking place this week at Columbia College.
Columbia College coach Melinda Wrye-Washington has said all year long that her team’s goal is to win the national championship. But the Cougars’ championship dreams took a significant hit by losing their opening game of the tournament to Campbellsville on Wednesday.
Despite the loss, senior middle hitter Juliana Quadrado thinks her team is capable of bouncing back.
You’ve got to keep in mind the good things that we’ve been doing in practice,” said Quadrado. “But also we need to keep in mind all the mistakes we made tonight and to step up [today] and fix it.”
Prior to the start of the tournament Wrye-Washington mentioned Quadrado as one of several Cougars who had stepped up from a leadership standpoint.
“[Juliana’s] stepped up a lot,” Wrye-Washington said. “I think the whole starting six that has been starting since the first start of the season has really stepped up.”
Quadrado has been playing through most of the season with a sore back, but is now healthy and said that leading her teammates is something that comes naturally.
“This is just my personality,” Quadrado said. “I like to talk. I like to help my teammates out because you know most of the time it’s just mental. Sometimes you just need someone to say ‘Hey lets go, we got this.’”
Quadrado’s leadership will certainly be needed if Columbia College is to make it past pool play and into the quarterfinals of the tournament. The Cougars lack of experience was something that Wrye-Washington was very concerned about heading into Wednesday’s game.
“It worries me a little bit that we have seven or eight new players this year because they haven’t been in this situation,” Wrye-Washington said. “It’s harder to win at home than it is on the road in these situations sometimes.”
Wrye-Washington provided her players with an itinerary a day before the tournament began so that they would no exactly what to expect.
“I handed out an itinerary that minute-by-minute takes us through the championship so that they expect where they need to be,” Wrye-Washington said. “No surprises. That’s something I’ve drilled into their heads is the expectation of what to look for.”
Wrye-Washington has also drilled into her players’ heads the expectation that they are supposed to win.
“Yeah, you see my itinerary. We need to be dressed and ready at 6:30 on Saturday for the championship.”