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Eau Claire Memorial Volleyball finds success in the alternate season

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Any successful volleyball team requires skill,

“I think we all have an extreme amount of talent and when we come together there’s no stopping us,” said Kayla Sorensen, senior outside hitter for Eau Claire Memorial.

However, the best teams have mastered mental toughness.

“A challenge for us is the mental game when were down we get in our heads,” said junior setter Emma Miller.

Playing with confidence, even after making mistakes is something Memorial’s new head volleyball coach Juliana Nichols has emphasized since day one.

“You can tell coach is competitive she wants to win and I think that’s great,” Sorensen said.

But through her day to day interactions with her team, Coach Nichols makes it clear, it’s so much more than the wins and losses.

“I want them to be able to talk to me, I know they’re not just a jersey standing in front of me they’re more than an athlete,” Nichols said.

Her coaching style, described by the athletes as tough love, goes well beyond the game itself.

“I’ve tried to create a culture on the team where the girls can be vulnerable with me. I’m a school psychologist first so that’s kind of innate with me,” the coach says.

The team captains say Coach Nichols has created new pre game rituals within the program that have little to do with volleyball but end up making a big difference on the court.

“A new tradition we have instilled this year is every person has a turn to bring a quote to bring out with us onto the court and that has made a big impact on being deeper with each other and more open heading in a game,” said Sorensen.

“We have been able to work better together as a team and trust each other to do our own jobs,” Miller added.

The Old Abes say this group feels more like a family than a team and as they close out the regular season with the program’s first winning record since 2017, this family unit has their sights set on one specific date. April 17th, the date of the state championship game.

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