Knox’s volleyball team (4-25, 0-9) traveled to Dubuque, Iowa on Halloween for their last match of the season, which was against the University of Dubuque Spartans. The Prairie Fire lost to the Spartans in three straight sets: 25-13, 25-10 and 32-30.
“We struggled early. It seems like all season we’ve struggled with getting off to a slow start. We definitely got off to a slow start,” Knox volleyball head coach Kim Schrader said. “It took us awhile to get going but finally did in the third set. We proved that we could play with them.
“I was really happy with the fact that even after being down a lot early and down in the first two sets that we were able to pull things together and come back in the third set. We didn’t win but we fought mightily,” she said. “To be down is one thing but to be down and come back really characterizes the heart and soul of this team. It says a lot about who they are. For the last set of the last match of the season to go 30-32 is a great example of how this team has battled all season.”
Knox had 12 Saturday matches this season, and they struggled in the ones away from Memorial Gymnasium.
“It is very hard to get up early on a Saturday morning and get on a bus and ride for two or two-and-a-half hours, get off the bus and be ready to play,” Schrader said. “That is a big part of our schedule, so we clearly have to figure it out. We will definitely try to play as many tri or quad matches on Fridays or Saturdays as we can.
“It is easier to win at home than it is on the road, but as our team grows and improves that becomes an important factor in taking the next step. We have to be able to play well on the road.”
The team struggled in road matches, battled all season long, matched last season’s number of victories, but was not as successful as they would have liked to be. Schrader hopes they gain knowledge from the past.
“I think it is always important to learn from the past and try to positively affect the future based on the lessons that you’ve learned from the past,” she said. “I also feel like by the time next fall arrives it will be a new team, and hopefully we have stored the lessons away and can go forward from there.”
There were three sophomores, three seniors and six freshmen on this season’s team who gained wisdom. Schrader believes the experience the underclassmen got will be a catalyst.
“I think everybody got valuable experience this year,” she said. “This is a critical recruiting year, because we have a great foundation of a young, but very experienced team. This is a chance for them to take pride and ownership of the program and start from where we left off right now and build from today. The experience we gained this year is a great springboard for that.”
Schrader, in an imperative recruiting year, needs to find a setter.
“Most importantly, we need a setter. Karen [Frost] was a great attribute to this program, so we need to replace her,” she said. “Another important thing, Kelly [Ricketts] is a standout offensive threat as a hitter. I feel like we need to bolster the ranks and build our offense to make ourselves stronger so that other opposing defenses will key less on her.”