DSU volleyball launches season with alumni game

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The Dixie State University volleyball alumni team gave the current DSU volleyball team a run for its money in the annual alumni game Saturday.

Coming off a Pacific West Conference title last season, the DSU volleyball team began its season by taking on former volleyball players. Despite the game being just a scrimmage, both sides put forth a tremendous effort to win and entertain the fans. 

“We’ve been playing ourselves in practice for the last three weeks,” Head Coach Robyn Felder said. “When you play different styles of players, it really exposes where our weaknesses are.”

It appeared the DSU alumni hadn’t lost a step as they took a 15-18 lead in the first set. The current team, however, quickly countered and ended up winning the set 25-21.

The current squad kept the momentum going into the second set as it led the entire way.  The DSU alumni made a late run to bring the score to 22-21, but it was not enough as the current team went on to win 25-23.

Senior outside hitter Delayne Daniel said it is crucial to build team chemistry early in the season.

“If you have one player that is checked out, everything just falls apart,” said Daniel, a computer science major from American Fork. “I thought we did a pretty good job, but it’s definitely something we can work on.” 

The third set was a tale of two stories. DSU’s current team jumped out to an early lead and looked poised to run away with its third straight set, but the alumni rallied back to tie the set at 21 apiece.

It was a back-and-forth battle until the alumni team finished off the set, winning 27-25. 

“It’s so important that all the positions are helping each other out,” said setter Kailey Frei, a senior elementary education major from American Fork. “Our team goal is to win. No matter who is playing, we just want to win.”

The Trailblazers’ current team tightened up its defense in the fourth set. It ran away with the win by a score of 25-17.

In what would prove to be the fifth and final set of the match, the alumni team jumped out to the early 9-2 lead. The current DSU volleyball team showed everyone why it is the defending PacWest Champion by winning 13 of the next 17 points to win the set and the match.

“I thought we did some good things,” Felder said. “There were moments of greatness, but then there were times that we had to be more disciplined.” 

Felder also talked about what is known as “hell week” and said that it is a very intense week of practice for the players.

During hell week, players are expected to practice upwards of five hours a day. Felder confirmed that several members of the volleyball team were injured during this week but that it they would be ready for the start of the season.

“We are resting a few players due to injuries, but most of our hell week girls are getting back in the gym,” Felder said. “You have to come into hell week in shape, and if you don’t, you’re going to hurt yourself.”

Despite being the reining PacWest Champions, the Trailblazers were picked to finish second this season in the conference’s coaches poll which was released Thursday.  Cal Baptist University edge out DSU for the top spot by receiving 189 total votes while the Trailblazers received 180.

“[Getting picked second] definitely motivates us and gets a little bit of fire going,” Daniel said. “I thought we had a really good season last year, but no matter how good we did, that season is over. It just makes me really excited.”

Felder said five starters from last season’s team are returning which helps them understand what is expected.

“These kids know what we do,” Felder said. “It is different from last season.  We’ve got some learning to do and some things that need to be fixed.” 

The volleyball team kicks off its regular season schedule with the Dixie State Crystal Inn invitation beginning Sept. 2. The Trailblazers’ first game will be against Black Hills State University at noon inside the Student Activities Center.