Volleyball focuses on teambuilding
This season, MSU volleyball welcomes new head coach Dana Cordova to the team. Last season, the team ended with a 0-20 conference record that left the ladies less than satisfied. This year, the team hopes to build from the ground up with their new coach to achieve a level of success like never before.
Coach Cordova is reshaping the team this season with new visions and principles.
"We're creating more of a disciplined culture, an accountability culture. We're staying true to our three core values: hard work, accountability, and discipline," Cordova said.
Her goals are simple.
"We're not concentrating on wins and losses. We're concentrating on doing the right thing and staying true to our values. Our ultimate goal is we just want to get better every day, every game," Cordova said.
Cordova explained that part of getting better includes focusing on every position individually to create a unified team, as well as building a faster offense and a better defense. She has also worked on the team's minds and bodies in new ways.
Cordova has taken on Beth Odahlen, director of Minot State's Center for Engaged Teaching & Learning, as a mental coach for the team. Odahlen has a degree and background in exercise science and sports psychology.
"We, as a team, have worked on team cohesion and group dynamics," Odahlen said. "As individuals, the women will work on different areas, including focus, self-talk, imagery, and other aspects of sport psychology." Cordova also implemented some physically demanding training to help apply the team's three core values.
"We brought in The Program which i s a military group that took them through some adversity training, making sure they had to come together to achieve goals," Cordova said.
The Program is an organization that puts together boot camps to push teams outside of their comfort zones and establish good leadership and teamwork. The players were led by an ex-navy seal and ex-professional basketball player to do military based exercises and drills like moving large logs shoulder-to-shoulder and treading water while taking sweatshirts on and off.
"It built us a lot because we had to depend on each other and hold each other accountable," Kelsey Dewulf, junior setter, said. "You did it until you got it done and you moved on to the next obstacle. Now we look back at it and smile because it was amazing."
The team grew closer on the court as a result of The Program and Cordova's coaching influence. However, they have also grown closer as friends.
"We're inseparable. We're always hanging out. There's so much chemistry. There's no problems and no drama. I love my team," Karli Koza, a freshman libero, said.
The new coach and the new players have had a lot to do with the improved bond of the team.
"In past years, they had trouble with having good chemistry on the team. With the new coach came a fresh start. Coach Dana brought in a lot of positivity. With six new players this year, we're kind of a new team. We just wanted a fresh start," Koza said.
Although coach Cordova has enjoyed growing the players as a team and as friends in the preseason, she also aims to improve them as students and individuals.
"First and foremost, they are students, and then they are athletes. We've got to get in done in the classroom. If that means missing practice, so be it; we'll catch them up. I'll never promise them a championship, I'll never promise them playing time, but I will promise them that they will get a degree, they will become better athletes, and they will walk out of here better people," she said.
The team has revamped themselves in the preseason to lead them to a fresh start this fall.
"This is the new MSU volleyball. We're going to shock a lot of people. No one has seen the team like this before," Dewulf said.
Cordova is excited for what's to come of this season with her team.
"We're going to be fun to watch. We are just going to keep getting better, and people should come and support us to see what we're all about," Cordova said.
The team rung in three wins against South Dakota Mines, MSU Billings, and Bemidji State earlier this month, with one loss to MSU Moorehead.
Last weekend, the Beavers lost on the road to the University of Crookston, 3-2, Minnesota State University, Mankato, 3-0, Northern State University, 3-0, and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, 3-0.