WCU close match against Davidson shows volleyball’s young talent

Caitlin Piechota (10) attempts a kill in the second set against Davidson on Saturday, Oct. 6. Photo by: Ryan Keys.

The Catamount volleyball team may have suffered a tough three-set loss to Davidson on Homecoming Saturday, but their talented sophomore trio was on display.

Statistically, Caitlin Piechota, Jordan Timmermann, and Addy George showed why they are often the talk of the Catamount squad.  Timmermann led the team with 15 kills on the way to a double-double performance.  Piechota accompanied her with a double-double that included 16 digs.  George also had a large impact, throwing down a career-high 12 kills.

After starting last year as freshmen, high production has become expected out of Timmermann and Piechota.  However, this doesn’t mean that success has come without challenges.

“Starting as a freshman was pretty nerve-racking,” Timmermann said.  “I was playing with a bunch of people that I didn’t really know, and it was the first time I was playing college volleyball.  Definitely a whole different scene.  Knowing Caitlin was in the same boat as I was helped me to calm down more, but not completely.”

Despite the nerves, both players came out strong and made an instant impact as starters.  Kyle Rush, who has commentated many volleyball games with WCU’s TV-62, has noticed a comfortable vibe to the duo’s play this year.

“Piechota and Timmermann have really begun to fill their roles and understand each other’s games,” he said. “They make each other better and will be the anchors to the Catamount team for years to come.”

The two players appear to complement each other perfectly.  Piechota brings an offensive explosiveness that is nearly unmatched in the Southern Conference, while Timmermann brings versatility to the court.

“I don’t really know what my best skill is,” Timmermann said.  “I try to do everything well, but if you would ask me what my favorite skill is, it would be blocking.  Nothing gets me more excited than getting or even seeing someone get a huge block.”

For Addy George, last year’s challenge was to take advantage of every opportunity she got.

“Whenever I had the opportunity to go in,” she said, “I always felt like I had to do what wasn’t being done on the court.  A lot of times it was to block the other team’s outside hitter.  Coach Glover always told me what she specifically wanted me to do before I went into a game.”

George appears to bring the same opportunistic approach to the team as a starter this year.

“As a starter now, I feel that it is much easier to make any impact on the team,” she explained.  “Going into a game cold, and not warmed up is very nerve-racking.  I knew that if I didn’t do what I was supposed to, I would be taken out of the game, so I had to push my nerves aside and play my game.”

Big plays and starting roles bring pressure to be leaders of the squad, a responsibility often left to seniors.  Timmermann tries to let her play do the talking.

“I would say that I don’t really say much vocally,” she said, “but I make that up with my play.  I tend to focus on everything I need to do in order to better my team in any way possible.  I think I bring the consistency my team needs in order to stay leveled.”

George brings a positive attitude and attempts to communicate effectively in order to help lead the team.

“I have mostly been working on my communication and leadership on the court,” she said.  “Communication is key because when things aren’t going our way in a game, our team tends to shut down and stop talking, and the court atmosphere is very quiet.  Pulling us out of that rut takes communication to get a vital kill or block.”

The team came into Saturday’s match with back-to-back Southern Conference victories, notching a three-set win against Greensboro last Saturday and following it up on Thursday with a nail-biting five-set win against archrival Appalachian State.  The final score against Davidson may not suggest a close game, but the three sets were only lost by two points apiece.

Competitive scores, even in defeat, are a testament to the heart of the team, which Timmermann is positive about.

“We have hit some bumps in the road,” she said, “but that happens in the game.  We are a strong team with a strong heart to win, so I have no doubt in my mind that we can go far this year.”

Piechota and Timmermann appear to be trailblazers, as this year’s team features two new freshmen, Nicole Ford and Tina Nazario, in starting roles.  George admits that having such a young team brings forth challenges, but also provides a huge advantage for the future.

“The most challenging thing about having a young team is learning to trust each other to do our own jobs on the court, but also knowing when to help each other out,” she explained.  “We are still learning how everyone plays and what their tendencies on the court are.  Having such a young team is also highly beneficial.  We have the rest of this season and two more together.  We are losing our starting right side (Abbey Scroggins) after this season, and we have a sophomore to fill her position.  After next season, we will lose our libero (Morgan Cochran), and we have a lot of defensive specialists that will train to fill her shoes until then.”

Perhaps the person that deserves the most credit for the success of such a young team is Head Coach Karen Glover.  In only her second full season with the team, Glover appears to know exactly which buttons to push with this Catamount squad.

“Playing for Coach Glover is great,” Timmermann said.  “We have the best of both worlds.  We can joke around with her and have fun, but when the time comes to focus on the game and practice, she puts us hard at work.”

Another large reason for the team’s success is their bond off the court.

“We are a very close team,” George said.  “We are each other’s best friends and family.  I know that for me, when I went home over summer break, I couldn’t wait to come back to school to play volleyball and spend time with my teammates.”

The Catamounts appear to have good play on the court figured out.  Start with a few cups of young talent, mix in good coaching, sprinkle on a family atmosphere, and you’ll have a winning recipe for years to come.