Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Volleyball team completes winless conference season

Rylan Bruns
BHSU head coach Bree Davis encourages her team on the sidelines of a recent volleyball game.

Black Hills State University’s volleyball team has seen a rough season over the last couple of months after losing 11 consecutive games leading into their final weekend. While this record is less than ideal, the season hadn’t started that way for the team, as the Yellowjackets saw success in their pre-conference games.

“This year I scheduled for some more culture wins than strength of schedule,” said head volleyball coach Bree Davis. “I wanted us to
compete but I also wanted us to see some success early. We definitely had that. We left 3-1 out of our first preseason tournament
and then we were 4-8 coming out of preseason, which was one of the best opening starts for volleyball since about 2015.”

After leaving their preseason tournaments with some wins under their belt, the Yellowjackets weren’t quite able to carry the same level of success into their conference games.

“I think there were just some miscommunications [on the court],” said Erin Weibel, a member of Black Hills State University’s volleyball team. Weibel thought those misconnections and miscommunications between teammates were what was costing them their victories in their conference tournaments.

“I think some fear kicked in,” said Emily Freeland, another player for Yellowjacket volleyball. “I“I think as we moved onto conference, you have all those histories with the conference teams and I think pressure gets a little bit more tight. I think with how young we
are and with all the new people, we tightened up and didn’t play as fearlessly as we wanted to.”

The team’s head coach pointed out another shortcoming which contributed to the games slipping away from the Yellowjackets.

“In almost every match that we’ve played so far this season, we are right there statistically with the other team. Where we’re losing is in the error column,” said coach Davis. “If we can clean up  some of those errors we would see some wins in some of those matches.”

In addition to the miscommunications and errors, Davis also emphasized the youth of the team. Yellow Jacket volleyball has see the addition of nine new players since they competed in the previous fall. With all the newcomers, the team was not usually as mature as their opponents. Even while Yellowjacket volleyball experienced a downtrodden season, Davis says the team kept their heads up.

“I’m really proud of how our team has handled some of the losses,” Davis said. “Anytime you’re losing consistently, there tends to be people who check out and give up and that was not something we experienced.” Although the Yellowjackets weren’t seeing much success up on the scoreboard, some of the athletes and their coach know they saw it at practice and saw the team experience some major growth.

“About halfway through the season we restarted something that we did last spring, which is a mindset program called ‘Maxout Mindset,’” Weibel said. “So, we work with a mental coach… we talk about breathing techniques and other mindset techniques to
call your brain and get some anxiety out.”

After the reimplementation of the mental conditioning, Coach Davis saw the spark reignite in some of her athletes and all around boost the tenacity of the team. The mental training also helped the girls through negative self-talk and how to be communicative with one another.

Additionally, the “Maxout Mindset” program contributed to Coach Davis’ plan to redefine the team culture. She believes the team struggled with having a good team culture and made it one of her goals to focus on that aspect of the sport. The push for culture
was noticed by her athletes.

“Our slogan this year was ‘Lean on and Lift up,’” Freeland said. “Basically, it’s leaning on each other – leaning on our teammates
– at times of challenge. And also, in that leaning on each other and being a close-knit group, we lift each other up and make each other better every day, whether it’s on or off the court.”

With another season behind them, the Yellowjackets have a lot of experience to learn from and are gearing up for their next
opportunity to prove themselves. Freeland believes the losses experienced will fuel the program moving forward.

“It definitely wasn’t the outcome of the season we were hoping for in terms of wins and loses, but honestly, I wouldn’t trade this
season for anything,” Feeland said. “We grew a lot as a team, but I also think I grew a lot as an individual. We learned a lot and
I think I grew more this season than I have in my entire career.”

Coach Davis agreed with her athlete regarding the closing of their season.

“Obviously, I’m bummed, I want to win, and I wish we could have won more, but I’m excited for what’s ahead,” Davis said. “All
of our young kids got a lot of really good experience getting to play this season.”

Looking into the future, coach Davis wants to use this first season of her career as head coach to fuel her moving forward and push
her to give the best to her athletes.

“I want to be here and I want to help rebuild this so we are looking at the longevity [of the program],” Davis said. “I think that this team is capable of so much greatness and I just need to help them figure out how to find it consistently.”