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Coach Terry Gamble is getting the McNeese State volleyball team ready for the upcoming season. The Cowgirls area looking to improve on last year’s 7-25 record. (Rick Hickman / American Press)<br>

Coach Terry Gamble is getting the McNeese State volleyball team ready for the upcoming season. The Cowgirls area looking to improve on last year’s 7-25 record. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Freshmen give Cowgirls reason for optimism

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:18 AM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Things are looking up for the McNeese State volleyball team.

In some part, that’s because it is the only direction the Cowgirls could go after a 7-25 season last year and 1-17 mark in Southland Conference play marred by injuries.

But head coach Terry Gamble has all players he recruited on the team for the first time in his career at McNeese, and that is his reason for optimism.

“This is the first year I’ve had all my own players and you can feel the difference in the gym,” Gamble said. “The energy is better and you can tell right from the start.”

Gamble, who has a 782-220 record in his 18-year career, said it was difficult to watch his team struggle last season.

The Cowgirls lost one starter from last season’s team and return five starters. They will also be aided by eight freshmen.

“(The freshmen) can play,” Gamble said. “The girl from Germany, Sophie (Tenbusch), is going to walk in here and start if she keeps working as hard as she does. I fully expect possibly three or four of these kids to compete for starting jobs. That’s pretty big. When we get some experience, it’s going to be fun to watch us in the years to come.”

With so many freshmen, Gamble said one of the most important parts of his job early in the season is getting his players acclimated to the college game and the mind-set that comes with it.

“We’ve got a lot of teaching to do with eight freshmen,” he said. “It’s teaching what volleyball is really about, what representing the school is really about. You go to high school and it’s different because you’re the best one in the gym and that kind of thing. Here, they’re not the best ones in the gym, they’re competing. The biggest thing we’re teaching right now is they’re competing for the name on the front of the jersey, not themselves.”

One player who will help with the learning process is the Cowgirls’ lone senior, Courtni Bauer, who transferred to the school last season.

She won SLC Newcomer of the Year and was an All-SLC honorable mention.

“I have to do the same things as everybody else, but I feel a little bit more pressure, a little bit more responsibility,” Bauer said. “I have to lead more. It’s my last time here. It’s my last semester to play volleyball ever, so I have to make a really big mark.”

Bauer said she can already feel the difference in the team’s attitude this season.

“I’ve been on a lot of successful teams, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a team come together as fast as we have just in the first practice,” she said. “We’ve only been practicing for like three hours and I feel like we’ve already helped each other through some tough stuff.”

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