The art of blocking has been an area of volleyball that the ETSU Buccaneers coaching staff has preached to their 14 student-athletes throughout the season and in the Atlantic Sun Championship it showed as the Bucs dominated the Ospreys with 15 blocks in the match to sweep away UNF in the first round of play.
With 11 players on the team that are 5-foot-9 or taller, it would seem as if height would be the key to being the 23rd best team in the nation good at blocking, but ETSU Head Coach Lindsey Devine knows it is more than that.
“We have broken down the skill a lot with our team with the fundamentals of how to approach footwork, hand placement and among other things and we have really reinforced that with our girls to try and excel at.”
Middle blockers Alysa Long and Jamie Stancliff each had a block solo and five block assists to lead the Bucs to their fourth appearance in the A-Sun Semifinals in the past five seasons. In order to advance to the program’s first A-Sun Championship Final they need to defeat the second seed, Kennesaw State, who defeated ETSU 3-1 in the regular season.
“We will definitely need those big blocks when we face Kennesaw State because their players with Sabrita Gulley, Alyssa Lang and Grace Hoyt we will really need to be on our game going against them,” Devine added. “Tonight was just one step closer to our goal - Kennesaw State is a great team and tomorrow is really going to be a battle between them and us.”
Long and Stancliff rank first and second in the conference in blocks per set and they know that in order for the Bucs to continue their run in the A-Sun Championship, the team’s blocking will need to continue to make a difference.
“Our blocking today was a really big difference in the outcome of the contest today and it really allowed us to pick up some momentum against UNF,” stated Long. “We focused on that area of the game in practice coming and we came out and executed in the game.”
With an Owls squad that features five six-foot-tall players, the Bucs need to continue to focus on what their coaches have been teaching them since the beginning of the season in order to move onto the championship final.