After a disappointing seven-game losing streak to start off the season, the Pacific volleyball team has found a way to turn it all around. With a very tough early schedule, the Boxers faced George Fox, No. 23 Occidental, Chapman, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 6 Cal Lutheran, La Verne and Concordia in the opening weeks of the season.
After a 3-2 revenge victory over George Fox on Sept. 14, first-year coach Kip Yoshimura knew that his young team was turning things around. With eleven freshmen on the roster of 16 players, and the learning curve from high school to college as steep as it is, Yoshimura was right to expect as much.
With so much riding on the performance of the freshmen players and Yoshimura often having six freshmen on the court at once, the team is experiencing heavy growth as the season goes on. “The potential of the young ones, I don’t want to say is unlimited, but we’re just getting better,” said Yoshimura.
Seven of the Boxers’ next eight games are on the road and the Boxers have not had many away games this season yet. Of the 14 games this season, only three times have the Pacific squad been the visiting team and the Boxers have a 1-2 away record. So Yoshimura is “excited to see how [they] can perform on the road.”
With what is nothing less than an army of freshmen, Yoshimura has had to rely on his veterans to lead the team. Seniors Alexa Block and Jade Thompson and juniors Mariah McHolland and Kami Kugler have done an excellent job, both on and off the court.
Yoshimura said that his first objective at Pacific was to “coach the captains” so he could make sure that they are able to command the team. Looking back on the 5-2 season turnaround, Yoshimura gave most of the credit to the veterans.
Yoshimura is no stranger to anything when it comes to coaching volleyball. In his career, Yoshimura has coached at both the NAIA and the NCAA Division I level. He coached Lewis and Clark State to five national tournament appearances from 1993-2001.
He then coached Gonzaga for seven years. When asked about how he dealt with the rough start as a first year coach, Yoshimura said that he’s seen almost everything to see as a coach and that he’s been in this scenario before.
Team morale is a hard thing to keep up as a losing streak gets bigger, and Yoshimura did an amazing job keeping the freshmen playing strong.
“The main point is to keep the team from panicking. We just keep moving forward from where we are,” said Yoshimura.
With the Boxers on a 5-2 run, a 4-2 conference record, and the young team reaching the middle of the season – where freshmen tend to hit their strides – the Pacific volleyball team is looking to become a force to be reckoned with in the Northwest Conference.