UMD volleyball shines in opening weekends

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In the past five seasons, the University of Minnesota Duluth volleyball team has hit the road for the opening two weekends and is an astounding 37-3 in that stretch of matches. The Bulldogs went 7-1 to kick off their 2017 campaign.

Dominating in states such as Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Colorado, the Jim Boos led Bulldogs have seemed almost unstoppable against non-conference opponents.

Acquiring such an impressive record doesn’t come easy. UMD head coach Jim Boos feels it is the stepping stones that former upperclassmen have laid that have attributed to the Bulldogs early season success.

“Some of it I think would be just culture,” Boos said. “The upperclassmen passing along expectations of how we’re going to train and what we’re going to do in the gym and off the gym and the team chemistry and bonding that we try to create during those first few weeks of preseason that we get.”

Boos explains that the first two weeks are about having fun and finding team identity. 

“Ultimately those matches early in the season are about learning about yourself,” Boos said. “What are our strengths, what are our weaknesses, what do we need to work on to prepare for conference play. And that’s really what we did learn these first two weeks about ourselves.”

Playing teams the Bulldogs have never seen before, UMD prepares differently than they would for a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opponent.

“We talk about going into these tournaments blind, meaning we don’t know anything about them,” Boos said. “What we’re going to learn, we’re going to learn as we play or we’re going to learn watching the day before.”

Boos enjoys the notion of going in blind and believes adjusting as the match carries out is a good test for his young team.

“Primarily you get to focus on what it is that we’re doing,” Boos said. “We can’t be too concerned about what they’re doing because we don’t know what they’re doing.”

Boos praises the first two weekends of each season because of the excess in opportunities his team has to just be together.

“I think the biggest thing is just the chemistry, the bonds, the connections that they get to make because for basically three-four days on the Florida trip, it’s us,” Boos said. “It’s nothing else, it’s not school, it’s not extracurriculars, we’re together. We’re eating together, we’re hanging out together, we’re scouting together, we’re watching together, so it’s really building that chemistry.”

The Bulldogs kick off their NSIC play tomorrow night at home in Romano Gym against the Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles at 6 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Evan Smegal

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