2015 MIAC Volleyball Camp Tour- Saint Mary's

By: Kelsey Whaley

Day Two of the Volleyball Camp Tour took me to Saint Mary’s University in Winona. I’ve seen a few Saint Mary’s games and practices before today, and I’m always impressed with the program. Head Coach Mike Lester does an excellent job with his teams and sets the bar high each year. His practices are very efficient, and he pushes, challenges, and teaches his players while facilitating a fun environment.

I didn’t attend a typical practice day for Saint Mary’s as I attended their Red/White game. It's a scrimmage where the players are split into two teams, the “Red” team and the “White" team and they play each other in as if it was a real volleyball match.  
So, without further adieu, here are six observations about the 2015 Saint Mary’s Cardinals:
  1. Experience and leadership- There are seven seniors on this Saint Mary’s team, meaning which is enough players to fill out the starting line up. These seniors have been extremely successful in their careers, making the conference tournament all but their freshman year. They want to continue that success, and their experiences throughout their first three years will help them do that. The upperclassmen as a whole know what it takes to be a top tier team in the MIAC, and they will teach that to the younger players through example and leadership.
  2. High Volleyball IQ- Experience often leads to a high volleyball IQ, which is definitely something the Cardinals have. The players are constantly reading the situation on the court, looking for the best options offensively based on their observations. They are always looking for a hole in their opponents defensive scheme and are ready to take it when an opportunity strikes
  3. High Flying Offense- At the most basic level of volleyball, there are four different plays a
    Outside hitter Jenna Sullivan goes up against two blockers
    during the first set of the Red/White match. 
    volleyball team can run on offense: a one, two, five, and “c”. Because their team has a high volleyball IQ, Saint Mary’s can run more than just these basic plays, meaning they will be extremely hard to defend.
  4. Loaded on defense- Baring injury, the Cardinals have four different players who are classified as a libero or defensive specialist. These four players give Coach Lester versatility on the defensive side of the ball and options for substitutions. Not only that, but these players are extremely scrappy and don’t give up on the play until the final whistle blows. Even if a ball is shanked, at least one or two players will run off the court to try and save the point (bystanders beware!)
  5. They are loud- Normally, this might not be viewed as a compliment, but it is for a volleyball team. At the Red/White game, players were talking to each other on the court before the point began by letting their teammates know the number of hitters on the court and the location of the setter. The communication did not stop when the ball was served either. It continued throughout the duration of the point and afterwards. In fact, the only time the gym was quiet was in between games, when the coaches took over the talking roles.
  6. Community support- The Saint Mary’s Volleyball program has serious fans.
    Libero Lex Krogstad makes a dig during warm ups.
    Krogstad is one of the captains for Saint Mary's this season.
    Throughout the scrimmage, twenty to thirty people stopped by to watch, and at least ten more hovered around the gym entrance. The Saint Mary’s community supports the volleyball team 100%, and the players notice. Professors and students will compliment them after games and wish them luck before. The dedication to this volleyball program is serious.

A special thanks to Coach Lester and the entire volleyball program for letting me attend the Red/White game! The Cardinals first regular season match is in Eau Claire, Wis. against UW-Eau Claire on September 1st, but their first home match is on September 4th when they host the Sugar Loaf Classic.

Up Next on the Camp Tour- Next, I head to Bethel University on Monday for what is sure to be another exciting day on the volleyball camp tour! Make sure to tune into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where I’ll be posting live from their practice. Also, make sure to check out Matt’s Football Camp Tour to read even more about your favorite MIAC programs!

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