First-year coach Emily Taylor didn’t expect this fall to become an extended offseason for her Yellow Jacket volleyball squad, but that’s what it’s been in preparation for the delayed start to the regular season set for February 2021.
The Presidents’ Athletic Conference announced Sept. 17, the women’s volleyball return to play plan for this spring. The schedule is outlined with each PAC member school playing a “nine-match schedule,” according to the conference’s press release. The regular season will be followed by a two-day tournament to crown a PAC volleyball champion.
The season is set to begin Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, and conclude on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, over eight weeks.
Taylor, hired by Waynesburg in March to take over the women’s volleyball program after a three-year stint as an assistant at Washington and Jefferson, said the team is finally back in the gym.
“Our first day back in the gym was Sept. 8,” Taylor said. “We are about halfway through our six-week nontraditional season. Our team has been resilient throughout all of this. Not only have they adjusted to a new learning and living environment on campus, but they have adjusted to my coaching style and expectations as well.”
The team is following all CDC and Keep Waynesburg Well plan guidelines and rules set forth by the PAC. As challenging as this can be, Taylor said the focus of her team hasn’t been absent.
“Focus comes from physically being on the court and being together,” Taylor said. “It looks different than in previous years, but we are thankful to be healthy and have the opportunity to work out and practice together in any way that we can. When we lose focus, I remind them why we are here and what we are working towards, building a team culture that is dedicated to commitment, hard work and supporting each other while we make a new name for the program.”
Taylor looks to change said culture, which has included three different coaches in four years. In those three seasons before Taylor’s arrival, the women have had a combined record of 10-71 overall and collected just two victories in PAC matches.
The new schedule set forth by the PAC will reduce the total number of matches on the schedule and will place more emphasis on each individual match, and every set in February.
The official schedule will be released by the conference at a later date. Taylor said the format presents a new hurdle, but is glad the conference has a plan laid out.
“The PAC normally plays a double round-robin schedule that allows us to play each conference team twice on two separate occasions with both matches counting towards our conference record,” Taylor said. “This year we get one crack at each team. Each match holds a lot more weight this season. It’s all or nothing.”
Three seniors will lead Waynesburg as Alexis Phillips, Hannah Colvin, and Mya Brooks each return for their final season.
Colvin returns following a year where she led Waynesburg in kills (235) and played significant time in all three of her seasons.
Brooks, a transfer from Lansing Community College last year, played in a team-high 95 sets in 2019. She also finished second on the team in blocks (31) and kills (186).
Phillips finished second in assists with 2.94 assists per set in 2019.
The women will have a lot of time before the season begins, but Taylor sees the extraordinary and elongated offseason as an advantage.
“It is times like these that show us what we are made of as individuals and as a team, Taylor said. “We have used this time to focus on team aspects off the court so that we can better support each other when we need it.”