Spring is a time when college sports that begin in the fall tune up for the upcoming season. Spring football is very well known in colleges across the country, with big intra-team scrimmages highlighting what’s to come the next season. One other fall sport that just so happens to have a spring season is volleyball.
The Western Michigan University Bronco volleyball team opened up their spring slate on March 18, facing the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Xavier University at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They are scheduled for three more game dates, with two being held at University Arena.
These games against other college teams are the main difference between spring football and spring volleyball. They help the players immensely, head coach Colleen Munson said.
“That’s the beauty of what we’re able to do,” Munson said. “As we scrimmage against one another in practice, you can only see so much. That live play against someone other than your teammates means something, because you’re able to grow through that experience.”
Spring seasons for fall sports usually means training time for the student-athletes, and volleyball is no exception to that rule.
However, the time early on was restricted by National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. For the first six weeks, January through the middle of February, the team was only permitted to do volleyball activities for two hours a week, and six hours for strength and conditioning, for a total of eight hours a week.
Now in 20-hour weeks, with four hours for volleyball activities, the team can focus on its offseason plan for more time, which Munson said is focused on a few things.
“We are really focusing on individual skills, getting bodies strong, and being able to adjust to the collegiate game,” Munson said. “It means every time you go out, you play aggressive, you can’t ease into it. You have to have a foundation physically and mentally to play at that level every single day.”
Because it is still the offseason, outgoing seniors and incoming freshmen do not participate in the spring season. However, Munson said that spring volleyball gives opportunities for the players still on the team for next season.
“It’s an opportunity for our core – rising sophomores, rising juniors, rising seniors – for next fall to kind of gel and solidify themselves,” Munson said.
After finishing their season with a trip to the Mid-American Conference tournament quarterfinals, Munson said that the team will look to build off that success, among other things.
“We’re spending a lot of time on our culture right now, trying to grow as individuals and collectively as a team,” Munson said. “I think the girls are putting a lot of time and effort into their values – we’ve sat down and looked at the vision for the program, what our values are, and what our students’ behavior is to uphold.”
The Broncos will play two home games at University Arena on their spring schedule. On April 1, they play against Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne, Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University starting at 10 a.m., and on April 14, they play arch-rivals Central Michigan University at 6 p.m.