Jimmies women's volleyball preparing for Benedictine

Nov. 17—JAMESTOWN — The University of Jamestown women's volleyball team's road to a second consecutive national title starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, when they host Benedictine College (Kansas) in the first round of the NAIA National Championships at Harold Newman Arena.

"We've been talking about this lately is, how we do often depends what we do on our side of the net, the energy that we have and the focus that we have and how intentional we are about what we're doing," Jimmies head coach Jon Hegerle said. "For us, the key is to stay locked in and be intentional about competing together as a team."

In order to get the win, Jimmies senior defensive specialist Ellie Holen said her team has to stay focused the entire match and not worry about their opponents.

"We're just going in focusing on our side of the net, focusing on what we can control and trying to win, not necessarily winning but trying to win and compete hard for every point," Holen said.

The No. 9-ranked Jimmies head into this game with a 23-9 overall record and a 9-1 record at home. The Ravens are coming in with a 21-8 overall record and a 9-4 record away from home.

"They're a talented team," Holen said. "They're really scrappy, so I think it's always staying in that mindset of playing every point like it's the last point of the set and really digging deep and being scrappy right alongside with them."

This season, Holen has eight kills, 104 assists, 26 service aces and 772 digs, which is the most on the team. As she looks ahead to this game, Holen said she needs to help keep her team mentally locked in.

"I think just be there emotionally for everyone and just be a fire on the court for them, instill confidence in them, be their biggest cheerleader from here on out," Holen said.

This campaign, the Ravens have given up 137 service aces, which Holen said is one of the keys for her team to get the win.

One of the challenges for both teams is the fact that they have never played each other before.

"We have a game of film on them but in practice, we've honestly just been focusing on how we compete with each other, how we harmonize with each other and what looks like in practice and how that's gonna translate to the games," Holen said.

After winning the national title last year, the Jimmies head into this match on a six-match winning streak in the NAIA National Championships.

Both teams lost in their conference semifinals as the Jimmies lost to Concordia University (Nebraska) on Nov. 8 and the Ravens lost to Park University (Missouri) on Nov. 7.

"Obviously you don't want to lose but when we did lose, we've had some good rest time," Hegerle said. "Our team needed it. I think we're both gonna come in pretty rested. I think for them, that's a long trip, it's 660 miles that they're traveling ... that takes a lot out of a team. So, advantage, disadvantage, it can be a disadvantage if that loss is still lingering as far as feeling like you didn't play very well and those types of things. But it should, if you're a competitor create some more hunger to right the ship and get back in your rhythm again."