If you were to strictly look at facts, the 2011 Washington State University volleyball team would be the textbook definition of a rebuilding team.
Yes, 11 of the 16 athletes on the roster are new to the team. Yes, the coaching staff is entirely brand new. Yes, the team only carries one senior in Meagan Ganzer. Yes, only one recruit belongs to this coaching staff.
But none of that matters.
“Those new players have done a good job of adjusting to the things we want them to do,” Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “I just think it’s been great, everyone is excited to be here.”
Not even playing in the Pac-12 conference, one of the toughest in the country, intimidates the coaching staff or the players.
“It is the toughest conference in the country, we think,” Greeny said. “We just come into the gym everyday just trying to be better from the day before, that’s all we can really focus on. You can’t just focus on how tough the conference is or wins and losses. We’re hoping that if we improve every day, we’re going to get the byproduct of that.”
One problem that arises with many young, inexperienced teams is lack of chemistry. However, chemistry seems to be maybe the strongest point on this years Cougar squad.
“I think it’s been great, for having so many new people,” Greeny said. “Even the returners have said ‘this is the best our team chemistry has been.’”
Ganzer, who is beginning her fourth and final year on the team, couldn’t agree more.
“This is one of the best teams I’ve been a part of as far as relationships, respect [and] hard work,” Ganzer said. “We really know how to push each other and hold each other accountable, but I know we really love and respect each other. It’s very much a family atmosphere.”
Sometimes being a very young team can come with some advantages, one of which can be creating a team with less overall fear of being overmatched.
“You don’t know what you’re up against,” Ganzer said. “You don’t know the caliber of player that you’re supposed to have that ‘fear’ of. (The freshman) just go into is as a learning experience, but at the same time with hopefully a few older players to set the base. Then they go and fills those gaps, fill those holes really well. Their youth and inexperience is hopefully what’s going to give them that edge.”
The Cougs open up their season this weekend, on the road at the Seattle University Invitational. WSU will play Santa Clara on Friday followed by Eastern Washington and Seattle University on Saturday.
This weekend will be the first action the team has seen outside of the scrimmage held last week, pitting the team against itself.
“(The coaches) perspective is not at all ‘we’re young and our standards are kind of low,’” Ganzer said. “No, it’s very high standards; NCAA Tournament is the minimum, and we want success. We know that we can do it.”
These high standards set by the coaching staff, coupled with the attitude surrounding the athletes are what they hope will fuel a good season for the Cougs.
“Very high expectations,” Ganzer said. “I think that especially after the Pac-12 rankings came out and we were at the bottom, it’s just even more fire. It gives us that little edge in wanting to compete and prove everyone wrong, which I know we can definitely do.”