October 18, 2016
By Christopher Sich
The Dominican University women’s volleyball team has won their past three games, all of which were against conference rivals, and now have a 6-1 conference record.
The Stars played very good competition early on in the season and had some tough matches, but the team has bounced back strong, winning important matches against conference rivals. The team has three conference matches remaining after Saturdays late night match against the undefeated Concordia Wisconsin Falcons.
“At one point in the season, we had the 5th, 7th, and 9th toughest schedule in the country,” said Jeanne Czipri, head coach of the Dominican University women’s volleyball team. “While we didn’t exactly rise to that challenge early on, I do believe that schedule better prepared us for conference play.”
The Stars are focused on improving and taking a step forward each and every day, but must also focus on their health. With six of the last seven regular season matches being on the road, the women on the team must maintain their health and care for their bodies.
“We do maintenance lifts throughout the season to keep their bodies strong as the season wears on them,” Czipri said. “We start to try to cut back when we can on the length of our practices and also adjust high or low impact practices based on our competition schedule.”
Along with staying well-rested and healthy, the athletes must balance also balance school and their social life, which can all be very taxing.
“A season is tough for any student-athlete … our women are highly focused students, so they spend a lot of time studying when they are not in the gym,” Czipri said. “In season, the focus should be school – volleyball – rest – social… it can be hard to put the social time on the back burner during season, but in order to maintain our high academic and athletic standards as well as make sure we are getting enough rest and recovery, it is one of the conscious choices that we expect our players to make in season.”
The importance of rest can sometimes be overlooked; Senior and Wyoming native Becky Dent, and the rest of the team, understand the value of making time in their schedules to rest.
“Rest is very important to our bodies, between class, homework, lifting, practice and game; we know the importance of a nap,” Dent said.
“Almost every day, everyone is making sure they get a 20 minute nap in to refuel themselves. We also try to go to bed as early as we can, so we can have 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night,” she added.
The Stars focus is high as they look to fine tune their collective and individual play. They are a very strong group of players with a lot of talent in every position. According to Coach Czipri, the team is focused on executing their responsibilities consistently well every day, and is doing really well with competing against each other in a healthy and positive manner.
Volleyball is a game of inches and the team knows that they must pay attention to details.
“We are focused on doing the little things to win each match,” Dent said. “By the little things I mean hitting different shots on offense, pushing our hands over the net on blocking, and keeping quiet bodies on defense. We believe that if we do the little things better than other teams than, the win will be waiting for us.”
The attention to detail has resulted in wins, which has boosted the team confidence. After convincing wins against Concordia University of Chicago and Wisconsin Lutheran College, the team confidence is very high and it has their sights set on first place in the conference.
“We know that we are able to beat anyone we face, if we all come to play,” Dent said. “We are fighting for second in conference right now and I can see the fire burning in everyone’s eyes.
Czipri added, “We are confident in each other and each individual’s abilities to get their job done… and we are confident in what this group is capable of.”
The Stars confidence, work ethic and high level of play can be attributed in part to Coach Czipris’ hard work. So far she has an impressive cumulative record of 57-37 in her three seasons as coach, and has also led the Stars to a NACC Tournament championship in her second season (2015).
“Coach Czipri puts her heart and soul into this team. She keeps us focused on our task and pushes us to points we don’t even know were capable of, individually and as a team,” Dent said. “We would not be the team we are today or as close of a family as we are today if it was not for Coach Czipri.”
The Stars have the right pieces in place to finish the season strong. With two weeks left in the season they look to claim the number one spot in the NACC, win the conference tournament, and make the NCAA tournament.