Nov. 9, 2012
Seniors host Truman in regular season finale
By David Boyce
Something as routine as pregame warm-ups will take on added meaning for Tori Beckman, Kelsey Larson and Alicia Watson.
The three Northwest Missouri State seniors will play their final volleyball match at Bearcat Arena. They will face Truman at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Northwest, 15-14 overall and 9-8 in the MIAA, has earned a spot in the conference tournament.
“I’d like to see a win,” Northwest coach Amy Phelps said. “Obviously that is the ultimate goal. Beyond that, I just want us to play well. I want us to compete with Truman and show our potential. There have been times we have shown it this year.
“I know the match is important for our seniors and to honor our seniors. I’m not trying to downplay it.”
The Bearcats, though, are trying to get mentally and physically ready for the conference tournament, which runs Nov. 13-17. Truman is the perfect opponent. The Bulldogs are 25-5 overall and 13-3 in the MIAA. They have established themselves as one of the four elite teams in conference this season.
“For our confidence, we have to fight for it against Truman,” Phelps said. “If we go out and play a great match, go off a game plan and give everything we have, then walking into the MIAA Tournament, we are exactly where we want to be.”
Northwest is coming off a nice, five-set win at Southwest Baptist on Tuesday. Northwest faced an 11-9 deficit in the deciding fifth game. They were just four points away from a loss.
Phelps called a timeout. The team regrouped and scored six of the last seven points to capture the final set 15-12.
“They went out and executed,” Phelps said. “That showed a lot of growth from our players. They can go out and be down and not player their best match and we still pulled it out.
“Pressure situations, sometimes we haven’t responded the best this year. I think this will help us have confidence in those situations.”
The Bearcats have grown this season. After a solid start, Northwest went through a rough patch in mid-October in which it lost six straight matches. Garnering one of the eight spots for the MIAA Tournament was in a little jeopardy.
Since the slump, the Bearcats have won four of their last six matches.
“I’m really proud of them,” Phelps said. “It all started back to recommitting what we needed to do in practice. For them to allow me to push them and for them to grow and trust my leadership were really keys to turn some negatives in there.
“In the weeks we didn’t play well, they could have chosen the other side and just hung out the rest of the season.
“Our goal this season was to make it to the conference tournament. I’m really proud they kept that goal in their sights and they were able to push through the challenges that we had.”
Phelps, in her first season as a head coach, has grown and learned as much as the players she is coaching.
“I probably could write a book on it,” Phelps said. “The support I have from the administration and the team really helped me. It’s a little bit different situation as the head coach. You are wearing the big pants. You have big decisions to make. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received throughout this entire process.”
Beckman, Larson and Watson did what seniors are supposed to do when there is a coaching change.
“More than anything they have really supported me,” Phelps said. “I really appreciate it and grateful for the support they have given me. For everything that went on, for them to be so selfless from day one and what we are going after has been wonderful.”
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