The Idaho volleyball teamâ€™s spring season is highlighted by the unpredictable nature of the sport, as the team practices offensive effectiveness while battling injuries.
The Vandals will travel to Pullman Saturday to face Central Washington, Eastern Washington and Washington State.
Idaho head coach Debbie Buchanan said the team is establishing their offense with only 10 players on the roster going into Saturday.
â€œWe are a little thin in our roster,â€ Buchanan said. â€œOut of the 10 kids, two of them are new. At this point we are establishing what type of team and offense we want to have. We are trying to simplify each position and what weâ€™re doing in our footwork and can we clean it up a little bit so we can go fast.â€
Buchanan said the team has improved their offense and has been working on their passes. The coach said she hopes the team remains healthy with a month left of spring competition.
Redshirt sophomore Sarah Sharp said the spring season has progressed fairly well with conditioning and a faster tempo.
The volleyball team is looking to replace graduates Jenna Ellis and Katelyn Peterson. Several players have already stepped up to the challenge.
Junior middle blocker Torrin Crawford has seen an increased role in the lineup this spring.
Last season, Crawford provided 105 kills and finished second in the Big Sky Conference with a .320 hitting percentage.
Crawford said the team knew they had to step up after losing several key players.
â€œComing into spring, we knew weâ€™re going to have to work hard,â€ Crawford said. â€œWe lost some big girls and we have to fill those big roles but also get our new girls acclimated into the team. So weâ€™ve been working hard to fill those roles and get back in shape.â€
The Vandals added outside hitter Klaree Hobart and setter Haylee Mathis to their roster in January.
Buchanan said the two signees have developed a chemistry with their new teammates.
â€œHaylee is a physical hitter and setter and sheâ€™s been able to run that fast offense,â€ Buchanan said. â€œKlaree has done great on ball controlling. Sheâ€™s still learning some things, but has done a good job.â€
Crawford said the transfer players have major roles to fill, since Mathis is the only setter and Hobart has developed a defensive role.
â€œTheyâ€™ve done a great job on being confident,â€ Crawford said. â€œThey have stepped into those roles and have experience under their belt.â€
Sharp said the two newcomers have been eager to learn a different style of play.
â€œTheyâ€™ve been eager to learn and try new things,â€ Sharp said. â€œThey have good attitudes, which has been contributing to our team a lot.â€
Crawford said Saturdayâ€™s games will help build team chemistry.
â€œWe need these big games because we have a lot of growth to make,â€ Crawford said. â€œWeâ€™re finally going to put into play what weâ€™ve been practicing. We need to work on communication and putting our pieces together.â€
Sharp said team preparation will factor into Saturdayâ€™s performance.
â€œIf we come in ready and focused, good things are going to happen,â€ Sharp said.
Idaho finished 10-6 in the Big Sky Conference last season and came out on top of the North Division after the team won nine of its last 12 games in conference play.
Luis Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheLTFiles