Last season’s overall record of 10-16 was less than ideal for California State University, Stanislaus’ volleyball team and their conference record of 6-16 was even more disappointing. Luckily for the Warriors, head coach Christina Lore, in her 8th season at Stanislaus, has the remedy: improved team chemistry.
“We’re working on our teamwork and trying to create a strong bond between us so we can depend on each other in tight matches,” senior and team captain Melissa Bishop said. “It’s already 100 percent better from last year. There’s so much more hustle and heart, everyone’s ready to go all out for the team.”
Lore has attempted to facilitate interconnectivity amongst her team by assigning team reading, implementing no cell phone rules when the team travels, and organizing a team camping trip. The idea is that a better connected team off the court translates into an in sync unit on the court, and from the look of her practices she may be on to something.
“We’re in a really tough conference. You never know how it’s going to work out each season, but this year we have some really strong freshmen and transfers in addition to our seniors,” Lore said. “We want to maximize the potential of the athletes coming in.”
To say that the CCAA is a tough conference for women’s volleyball is an understatement. Four CCAA teams were recently ranked in the top 25 in the nation and a handful of CCAA teams constantly qualify for Regionals at the end of the season. Lore hopes the Warriors will be one of those teams to reach the post season this year and potentially earn a national ranking.
To help her, Lore has enlisted the assistance of former Stanislaus standout Lianne Vicchio, who is making the transition from player to coach this season. Vicchio, who was twice named first team All-Conference and has set school records with her play, has been doing her part to infuse a need for focus and consistency to the team.
“She loves the program and the school and she has a lot of knowledge,” Lore said of Vicchio. “She understands how to be a great player so she has a lot of respect from the team because of that.”
In addition to stressing team communication, Lore is also depending on returning players such as Nicole Kincaide, Jordan Harris, Emily Feerick, and Bishop to lead the team. Bishop, who missed 16 games last year with a knee injury, is projected to be an integral force on the court in her role as middle blocker.
“I’m pushing and working hard because this team means a lot to me,” Bishop said. “This year I plan on being bigger and badder than ever.”
Stanislaus will face their first test of the season today in Rocklin when they scrimmage William Jessup University. The volleyball team will also compete in two tournaments, the Seaside Invitational and Seawolve Spike, before CCAA play begins on Sept. 14.
“It’s going to be a big battle all season to see who goes to Regionals,” Lore said. “But the first thing we’re focused on is our preseason. We would like to finish 6-4 in our preseason and then we’ll go from there.”