The lack of scrimmage experience during practice last week did not hinder the Idaho volleyball team in their pursuit of growth during a spring tournament in Pullman over the weekend.
The Vandals faced Central Washington and Washington State Saturday as part of an exhibition showcase.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said the teamâ€™s performance against the Cougars showed marked improvement in the program.
â€œWe played four sets against Washington State,â€ Buchanan said. â€œWe had the lead almost in every game except the very end. Itâ€™s just a matter of pushing through each game, but our challenge right now is not having a ton of players.â€
Buchanan said the team has experienced a lack of scrimmage time during practice due to a thin roster.
â€œWe only have nine practicing right now and two of those nine are injured,â€ Buchanan said. â€œWeâ€™re trying to make sure weâ€™re pushing through and we still try to maintain a level so we can keep going.â€
Senior defensive specialist Terra Varney said competing against two teams Saturday provided players with valuable experience, noting it was the first time in a while Idaho has played six-on-six during the spring season.
â€œI think we did well Saturday,â€ Varney said. â€œWeâ€™ve only been able to play against three people on the other side so it was nice to get out and be competitive.â€
Buchanan said the team has been working on different aspects of the game.
“(In practice) we have one side working on rotations and the other side hopefully getting it back over,” Buchanan said. “At this point, the one part we haven’t had is the true scrimmaging experience. This past Saturday was a great experience for us and we definitely just have to keep getting better.”
Redshirt sophomore and outside hitter Sarah Sharp said it was beneficial to see how the team stacked up against collegiate competition. She said the team can only focus on what they can control moving forward.
â€œEven though we are not playing against six people (during practice), as long as we can take care on our side, we should be just fine and weâ€™ll do good things,â€ Sharp said.
Despite having some limitations to their practices, Buchanan said some team members played fantastic on the court.
â€œTorrin (Crawford) and DeVonne (Ryter) both did some great things in the middle,â€ Buchanan said. â€œRight now, weâ€™re still trying to figure out the tempo from the outside and connecting (our shot selections) and just piece it all together. But we did some bright things.â€
Junior middle blocker Torrin Crawford said the teamâ€™s growth increased during the opening matches of the spring.
â€œThis weekend was good for us,â€ Crawford said. â€œWe made a lot of growth. We needed to work through a lot of things. We are working on team communication and team chemistry.â€
Varney said the team treats each competition as a learning experience for the next two of weeks of the spring season.
â€œWeâ€™re learning from what we did last week,â€ Varney said. â€œWeâ€™re able to see what weâ€™re doing well, what we need to work on. This week has just been working on those things that we need to work on and see if we can improve Saturday by working as a team.â€
The Vandals will have two games on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Memorial Gym. The team will face regional opponents Lewis-Clark State College and Spokane Falls Community College.
Buchanan said she is looking forward to hosting a spring game on the teamâ€™s home court.
â€œItâ€™s always nice to play at home,â€ Buchanan said. â€œThis is our comfort and where we play at. We typically donâ€™t get those crowds for spring games.â€
Luis Torres can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TheLTFiles