Forward together: focus for women’s volleyball goes beyond the final score

Huskies head coach Dana Cooke hopes for “renewed inspiration” in 2017

George Brown’s women’s volleyball team may have an unflattering 2-7 record, but process over results is the focus for this Huskies squad.

While George Brown has gone through ups and downs on the court, the coaching staff’s message has been a constant all season long. Rather than setting goals around the final score, Huskies head coach Dana Cooke asks for continuous improvement from the last outing.

“Even though it’s based on wins and losses from the league’s standpoint, I’m realistic enough to know that I have to invest in the players first,” said Cooke. “Performance is really what our goal is, and I’ve seen a definite improvement from September till now.”

The loss to Fleming on Nov. 29, where George Brown played to five sets for the first time all season, was just the latest example of a team coming together slowly but surely. If there’s a final hurdle for the Huskies to overcome, it may be between the ears.

Throughout the first nine games of the season, George Brown has struggled to put a missed point or ugly stretch behind them. When the Huskies have played with consistency and confidence, it’s paid off. Assistant coach Lesley Lovell described the Nov. 13 win over Canadore as the first time the team believed they had the skills necessary to compete.

It’s a dynamic third-year Huskies veteran Tiana Samuels is well aware of.

“The more you look at the score, everything changes,” said Samuels, who believes the coaching staff will work on mental skills between now and their next game on Jan. 11. “Your mentality changes, and basic skills that we acquire as a team diminish. We just got to play volleyball and stop focusing on our errors.”

Describing December as another building month, Cooke’s thoughts on the future go beyond game plans and nitty-gritty. While the Huskies head coach does look forward to applying new techniques and perhaps new lineups, underlying those is a hope that 2017 brings “renewed inspiration”.

Ideas of taking the next step would be fruitless if George Brown’s core wasn’t willing to buy into the team concept. Listening to second-year Husky Pao Ming Lee, who nearly willed her side to victory on Nov. 29, it sounds as if camaraderie is the least of George Brown’s concerns.

“I love the team,” said Lee. “Everything is for the team, for each other. That’s what I want everyone to feel like; we grow together, we win together, we lose together, it’s all part of our development”.

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Forward together: focus for women’s volleyball goes beyond the final score