Kirby, Proper develop strong bond

Waynesburg University volleyball player Alyssa Proper is the only senior on the 2019 roster. Her and the juniors on the team have experienced the process of a coaching change during their time at Waynesburg.

“I was definitely nervous, because I didn’t know if the change would be better, if it would be worse, I didn’t know what was going to happen or what to expect,” Proper said. “But at the same time, I was excited for a change. We obviously needed one.”

In Proper’s first two years with the program, Waynesburg had a combined record of 2-52. Last season, they won five games, which was more than double their win total in Proper’s first two seasons. Proper said the team had a different mentality with coaching change. They all realized that if they wanted to improve, changes needed to be made. 

“I think that [the change] was positive,” Proper said. “We all realized that what we had been doing obviously was not working.  We hadn’t won much, we hadn’t improved much, so I think overall people were ready for a change.”

One thing that Proper has noticed with Kirby compared to Benkowski, is that she doesn’t look at the big picture which helps Proper improve her game.

“[Kirby] definitely pays closer attention and picks out the little things,” Proper said.

Proper can point out one specific thing that coach Kirby has helped her to improve.

“Her big thing with me since I’m a setter is my legs,” Proper said. “I don’t use my legs all the time when I set so that’s one thing that she’s really focused on is my legs and like my follow through so that the ball doesn’t spin as much.”

Kirby picked out a different strength that she believes Proper has improved on since she took over in 2018.

“I think she has really improved her mental game with like not getting so hard on herself and being able to make good choices,” Kirby said.

Kirby also says that she’s tried to help Proper from a technical standpoint on the court as well. The work has paid off. At the setter position, Proper leads the Jackets with 119 assists, 25 more than any other player.

“She’s not typically a setter, so I’ve helped her become more aware of where to set the ball, when to set the ball,” Kirby said.

Since Kirby has arrived at Waynesburg, Proper said that Kirby’s main message to the team is less talking and more doing with their actions on the court to get positive results.

“Since she got here,we are a different team,” Proper said. “We’ve noticed we are a different team and big thing is [to] prove it. Prove that we can do it, prove that we’re better, prove people wrong.”