Freshmen give Cowgirls reason for optimism

By 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.”