Four games and a week ago, the Mavs began their season in Seaside, Calif. for the Otter Volleyball Invitational, in which they went 2-2.
They began with a matchup with Northwest Nazarene, where they lost 3-2, losing the fifth set 15-9. Friday afternoon, they dropped to 0-2 against Westmont College, losing 3-1. However, they turned the corner in their second game of the day, besting CSU Monterey Bay 3-2 before closing out the tournament with a 3-0 victory over Dominican.
Head Coach Corey Phelps hopes to carry that momentum into this weekend and beyond.
“The offense has been our biggest area of focus, we just need to be sure we are doing things correctly when it comes to serving and passing,” Phelps said. “We definitely underachieved last year, and this year hopefully we can prove that we are one of the better teams in the conference.”
Coming up for the Mavs are four games at the Tiger Classic. First up on Friday, they will take on Cameron University at 10 a.m. and Southern Nazarene at 2 p.m., both of which they have not played before. Another unfamiliar opponent comes the next day, when they will take on New Mexico Highlands at 10 a.m. To close out the Tiger Classic, they will play their second match of the day at 2 p.m. against Fort Hays State.
Implementing a new style of offense has been the focus of Phelps and the Mavs over the off-season, and their new, faster style of play is something to look forward to.
“I think that we are one of the most athletic teams in the conference, and we did a lot in the spring to improve our offense,” Phelps said. “It’s fast. Through a lot of trial and error and learning, we feel like we are in a much better position to do things in the conference.”
Another big difference for this year’s Mavs team is the amount of experience players have gained.
“Having three freshmen start last year was tough, but now there isn’t any more fear or intimidation. Now, for them, it’s just what we do,” Phelps said.
A positive side of having a younger roster is being able to grow together. The Mavs pride themselves in having a great team culture.
“We spend a lot of time in our program talking about what a great culture sounds and looks like, and lately all the players rave about how we’re closer than we have ever been,” Phelps said.
The Mavs will begin conference play Thursday, Sept. 14 at #11 Southwest Minnesota State before their first home match of the year against Winona State Saturday, Sept. 16.
After a 6-22 season, Phelps said he is looking to “do things differently.” From their culture to their offense to the way their program is run, it’s a good sign of things to come.
“We haven’t lived up to expectations in 15 years, so we have to figure this out, we’ve been underachieving for far too long,” Phelps said.
Header Photo: A 2-2 split at the Otter Invitational bodes well for the future of the Mavs season. This weekend’s matches will be streamed live on the MIAA Network. (Photo courtesy MNSU Athletics)
Write to Hayden Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org