Viking volleyball shakes off preseason play

Viking volleyball shakes off preseason play
Graduate student Erika Bute sets up for the ball against Arkansas-Monticello on Sept. 8. Photo by Dave Egger/GoAugie. 

While Augustana’s volleyball team got off to a slow start with a 0-4 record in its first preseason tournament, the Vikings quickly turned their performance around at their second fall tournament.

On Sept. 1-2, the Vikings played at the Denver Oredigger Volleyball Classic, where they fell to the University of Findlay, Colorado Christian University, Pittsburg State University and Colorado Mesa University.

“It was a learning weekend,” Erika Bute, a graduate student said. “We definitely got better [over the course of the tournament], even if the record didn’t show it.”

At the Texas Denton Volleyfest, the Vikings’ second preseason tournament, the team claimed a 3-1 victory.

“There is a ton of potential,” Bute said. “With people stepping up, we are only going to get better as the season goes on.”

The Vikings’ overall goal for the season is to make it to the conference tournament and, if successful, beyond.

“It is always a battle,” Jennifer Jacobs, volleyball head coach, said. “We are in the hardest conference in the NSIC because there are always five, six, seven teams ranked in the top 25 of the nation in our conference.”

Last year, the Vikings fell in the NSIC semifinals against St. Cloud State 3-0.

“We’re working on attacking at first contact to get in the system, then knock our opponents out to get an advantage towards a point,” Ellie Walker, a sophomore outside hitter, said.

With four new freshmen and a few injured players, the team has had to adapt and focus on teamwork.

“The team camaraderie is great,” Kiylah Franke, a freshman setter, said. “We’ve blended really well. Everyone has been super welcoming and helpful.”

The team also has the advantage of a second assistant coach this year in Emma Nelson, the former assistant director of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The addition of Nelson has allowed Jacobs to carefully focus her attention on individual athletes.

As the Vikings prepare for the official season to soon be underway, they hope to see the student section full of support to help fuel their energy.

“When we have fans in the stands, it’s a world of difference knowing that a whole crowd is behind you,” Jacobs said. “Personally, I just want to see fans out there and engage with volleyball.”

The Vikings will next play against Minnesota State University-Mankato on Sept. 23 in the Elmen Center at 5 p.m.