The Youngstown State University volleyball team concluded its spring season on Saturday, and head coach Mark Hardaway said he was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
“I think we had a good spring,” Hardaway said. “It’s hard because we have so many returning players that my expectations this spring were really high.”
While admitting that he may have wanted a little more out of his players in some competitions and practices, he knows this isn’t a group that’s been in his system for four years.
“I have to keep reminding myself that we’re only a year and a half here as a program with this staff,” he said.
Looking ahead to summer, Hardaway said that it’s very crucial that his team comes into preseason practice healthy and in shape.
“If you come to preseason with an injury, it just really hurts you and your chances of playing, and it also hurts the team,” Hardaway said. “If they come out of shape, then we just can’t get as much done in the preseason.”
Along with working on their game and playing over the summer,Hardaway said it’s just as important for the team to rest up.
“I need them healthy, and you do need recovery time,” he said. “Our sport is very hard on the shoulders and very hard on the knees.”
The Penguins have seven seniors this season, and, of the eight to ten players who were in the regular rotation last season, only one setter isn’t returning.
“You have to have higher expectations — you had the first winning season this year since ’99, and you return virtually the entire starting lineup,” he said. “We do have high expectations because of the success we had this year and the athletic ability we feel we have.”
Hardaway said that the team already has their goals planned out for the fall, which are to have another winning season and to win the Horizon League Conference Tournament.
“The reason why we set the goal of winning the conference tournament is because we do feel that our team has enough physical ability that, over a weekend, we can beat anyone in the conference,” Hardaway said.
“One of the things we’ve talked about with the teams is you just don’t set goals to make them feel good. It’s got to be a goal you think is obtainable.”
Senior Missy Hundelt unanimously won the MVP award at the team’s awards banquet on Saturday. This past season, she was also named All-Horizon League and was named the Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week twice.
“We all know that Missy is going to have to carry a big load next year, and she had a good spring,” Hardaway said. “I just think she’s going to have more help next year when I look at some of the people that made big strides this spring.”
Looking ahead to the fall, Hardaway said he is excited for the season. He doesn’t look at it as pressure to win, but as the possibility of what can be accomplished.
“If the team does their job over the summer and in preseason and works really hard, I kind of look at it as the payoff and the reward for all that hard work,” he said. “I think we’re in a position to take a step to the next level with this team.”