Nov. 14—JAMESTOWN — The No.9-ranked University of Jamestown women's volleyball team could face a challenge on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Harold Newman Arena from one of the last teams selected to the NAIA National Championships, according to Jimmies head coach Jon Hegerle.
"I think they were one of the last teams selected but we know at this time every team is playing their best," Hegerle said. "From one of the coaches in their league, he shared that they are really playing really good volleyball right now. We are excited to have them up here and host that first round again. We would love to get a win and move on."
The Jimmies will host Benedictine College (Kan.) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18.
This season, the Jimmies are 9-1 at home while the Ravens are 9-4 on the road.
"The more you're in your comfort zone, the looser you are and the looser you are the better you play," Hegerle said. "So being in front of our home crowd and being on our home court is always a huge advantage for us."
The Jimmies and Ravens have never played before, which Hegerle said presents a challenge as they prepare for the match.
"There's always challenges because you can see stuff on video but it's what you're not seeing that you're concerned about," Hegerle said. "You can see some stuff but you can't tell what their team chemistry is like, you can't tell sometimes the pace of the game. One thing we feel really good about is being in the GPAC. It's going to be hard-pressed to find teams that play at a faster speed than we play at because that's what we have to play at with the GPAC."
The Jimmies are heading into the tournament with a 23-9 overall record and an at-large bid after losing in the GPAC semifinals to Concordia University (Neb.) on Nov. 8. Hegerle said his team got the highest-ranked at-large bid.
"I think we're just kind of taking things as they go and not really holding ourselves to any standard and just playing," Jimmies middle hitter Darienne Johnson said. "However it happens, is how it happens."
The Ravens are coming into the match with a 21-8 overall record and off a loss in the Heart Tournament Semifinals on Nov. 7.
As the team prepares for the match, Johnson said she and her teammates will check in with each other and work hard to try to advance in the tournament.
"Probably just more focus, more fun, figuring out as the pressure gets more intense, what will our teammates need in more high-stress situations, getting our minds right," Johnson said. "We're all just really excited."
Hegerle said his team will be concentrating on themselves and practicing in the way that they have all season. As the Jimmies prepare for the tournament, Hegerle said he is mostly thinking about how sudden the ending of the season is regardless of whether they are eliminated in the first round or win the national championship.
"There's a couple things that go through my head with nationals, one of them is that we have such a great group of young women that I don't want the season to be over," Hegerle said.