The Jayhawks are back at it again with another ruthlessly successful volleyball season. Halfway through JCC’s fall athletics season, the women’s volleyball team stands undefeated with a record of17-0. They are headed by Coach Ashley Lund, who has been with JCC’s volleyball program for 12 years and has been head coach of the women’s team since 2008. This week, Coach Lund sat down with the Jamestown Gazette to discuss the close bond her athletes share, the pressure her only returning player faced, and her goals for the team at Regionals.
Cortney: What kind of dynamic do you have between the girls on your team?
Coach Lund: As far as chemistry, when you only have seven [athletes], there’s not much that can go wrong. From the start, they really mixed well and seemed to get along. That’s only grown and gotten better. They like to have fun, the girls are very lighthearted, so we try to keep our practices light, too. They have drive and a passion for the game, but they also make me laugh and help me remember to calm down. It’s just a game.
Cortney: Do you think they’ve developed such a strong bond because they all played for nearby high schools?
Coach Lund: Yes. I mean, I’ve never recruited from outside our area – we’ve had a few girls come in from outside [Chautauqua County] on their own – but I don’t recruit outside of our area. I love the student athletes we get from our local schools. They still get that “home feel” sense at JCC because they’re all local and now, here, they get to collaborate together as one team.
Cortney: Was it nerve-wracking coming into the season with six out of your seven players being freshmen?
Coach Lund: Having six freshmen was extremely scary for me. It was scary for my sophomore [SallyAnne Rudny], too. When they come in as sophomores, they’re seasoned: they know what’s expected of them to perform and compete at the college level. So trying to get the freshmen to understand the new level of the game, compared to high school, is difficult until they actually get into it. It can be a challenge to get them ready for game-time competition.
Cortney: You mentioned sophomore SallyAnne Rudny, who was named an All-American last year. With that kind of success, was there pressure coming into this season?
Coach Lund: Having her return was obviously wonderful; I’m glad she chose to stay with us for two years. I think she felt a lot of pressure being the only returning sophomore because she knew the freshmen would be looking to her. She’s trying to be a leader on the team and get everyone going, but she’s also trying to focus on her own game. She handled it well and she’s a wonderful team leader. As far as pressure, yes, there was a ton of pressure. I felt it in the sense of, how do I make her as successful this year as last year? We did that by trying to fine-tune things that she struggled with last season. Is she having the year she had last year? Not necessarily, but she’s still having a super-successful season. I honestly think she is a better player this year than she was last year.
Cortney: What do you think has been the key to your team’s success?
Coach Lund: I really think it’s the bond the girls share. When you only have seven girls and they all play every game, you get to know each other on the court. We have our routines. There’s no guessing: they know who’s playing next to them and they know how everyone plays. That consistency has made the difference.
Cortney: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Coach Lund: Our goal is to be successful at Regionals. Regionals is a clean slate: once you’re there, everyone’s starting at zero. At Regionals, I want to still be able to perform at the level we’ve been performing at. I want to hopefully win it. We don’t talk about [winning Regionals] at practice because we go day by day, we play for the next game. But as a coach, you know, that’s always a goal in the back of my head.
To read more of Cortney Linnecke’s creative and informative contributions to the Jamestown Gazette, please go to www.jamestowngazette.com.