For women’s volleyball, composure brings success

Chapman women’s volleyball team has won 13 games in a row, a streak that senior Eve Silverman attributes to a change in team composure on the court. Panther Archives

There’s a particular sense of composure, a team-wide display of tranquility that can be felt in watching the Chapman women’s volleyball team line up behind the net. At the same time as they’re clicking on the court – racking up 13 victories in a row – they aren’t clique-ing off of it. When the team finds itself becoming slightly overwhelmed, senior Eve Silverman said they come together as one in a tight huddle to flush any negativity away from the previous play and move on to the next.

“The team dynamic is incredible,” said Eve Silverman, a senior outside hitter. “We are all one cohesive team; we’re all on the same page and we do a ton of things outside of volleyball.”

With that sense of cohesiveness manifesting on the court, the women’s volleyball team is in the midst of the team’s longest winning streak in the past decade. However, this isn’t merely a standard convention of friendliness off the court translating to ambiguous in-game production. Silverman pointed to a specific style of play she’s noticed has changed positively from her three prior seasons as a member on the team.

“We’re playing really calm and staying focused when we get down,” Silverman said. “In the past I’ve noticed if something went wrong we would panic, but this season we play very calm.”

Head coach Mary Cahill said she recognized the level of talent the team had, but stressed the importance of maintaining both confidence and consistency. Sophomore outside hitter Erika Wiles agreed with Cahill, adding that the team’s collective anxiety can reveal itself in pressure-packed situations; the key for them is maintaining composure.

“If a team comes out against us really hard, then we get nervous and on our heels,” Wiles said. “We need to stay focused during those times, but in difficult situations we play up to our competition.”

On Oct. 1, their 10th victory in the winning streak, this exercise in tranquility was given a test. The unranked Panthers had to remain calm when they were faced with a 2-0 set deficit at the beginning of the match to the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS), ranked No. 7 amongst all National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III teams. However, they were able to compose themselves and rallied back to take the match in five sets, 3-2.

“It was crazy that we beat them,” said Jessi Lumsden, a sophomore outside hitter. “I’m so impressed with our team.”

In order to maintain this success throughout the rest of the season, Wiles believes the team needs to continue to work hard at practice in order to stay in better shape than the rest of the league.

“They’re a good set of athletes that works really hard and they need to know that and have confidence in themselves,” Cahill said.

If the team is able to maintain this sense of composure and continue their relationship outside of volleyball, whether it be going as a group after practice to watch other Chapman teams play or eating dinner together, the team firmly believes they can make a run at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title.

“I’m really proud of what we are doing,” Silverman said. “No matter if we’re on the bench or on the court, we are all one team working towards one goal and this is one of the greatest team dynamics I have experienced in my 12 years of playing volleyball.”