North Alabama volleyball has not won a game in a month. They are 2-11 for the season and on an eight game losing streak. UNA is new to Division I, this is a team of new players and the Lions were set to finish last in region play.
Only four players are returning from the spring, but only two of those got to play in the previous season. There are 11 new players as well, which adds to the challenge. Volleyball is a close-quarters sport, where teamwork and cooperation is key. Those things are hard to accomplish when the players have only known each other for a short time.
“We have people from Germany, I’m from England, we have Americans and Puerto Ricans and we’re just trying to get that bond and connection,” said senior opposite hitter Hannah Symonds. “I think it is slowly coming together and I think we proved it in this game today, especially in the first and third set. I thought we really showed what we were capable of.”
The Lions lost Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 to Liberty and Florida Gulf Coast, both teams that are undefeated in conference play the latter being the No. 1 ASUN preseason pick. North Alabama lost 1-3 against Liberty and 0-3 against Florida Gulf Coast.
Against Liberty the Lions played a close game in all four sets, winning 25-23 in the first, and losing 19-25, 18-25 and 19-25 in the three after. Florida Gulf Coast won 25-21 in the first set, dominated 25-8 in the second and 25-18 in the third.
“I feel like we’re a work in progress,” said head coach Bob White. “We’re a brand new team with eleven new players and an enormous amount of injuries.”
So far all the teams the Lions have played are undefeated in their conference with a record of 4-0. White said those teams were the toughest part of the season, but he said he is excited to see his team competing strongly against powerful opponents.
“We’re growing and we’re learning,” said junior setter Emma Ellis. “We’re obviously a really young team and a team that’s brand new this year. I think we show really good moments of skill in all areas. Sometimes our block is really killer, sometimes our passing is really on. I think right now we need to find a way to put it all together at one time.”
A volleyball game is played with six players on each team in a 30x30 square, so chemistry is important for the players to be able to move and coordinate in such a fast paced game. Chemistry like that only comes from spending time and working together.
“The skill is there, we just need to figure out how to show it,” Ellis said.