After a solid three weeks, the Cascades men’s volleyball team heads into their new season. Head coach Kyle Donen talks about the team’s strengths and weaknesses this year, as well as their recent winning weekend.
How was your training this year?
It’s been good so far. I think we’re off to a good start and feeling good about where we’re at so far in the season. We had a big win [Friday] night, and we’re feeling good about where we’re heading as well. We’re feeling good about the direction that we’re heading this year.
What’s your roster like this season?
It’s a mixture of about nine guys that are returning, and six brand new players to the team, so a good mix of young and old players. I think our balance has been really good this year. Our older guys are putting in the time and putting in the extra effort, and the younger guys are chomping at the bit to get on the floor as well, which is what we need. The younger guys are ready to contribute, and I have the confidence that they’ll be able to contribute the way we need to when the time comes.
What are the team’s strengths and weaknesses this season?
I think just some experience is something we’re looking to get more and more of. I think you can always ask to get more experience. I don’t think it’s necessarily our weakness, but with a couple different pieces in the lineup this year, I think it’s something that we need to continue to grab at. I think the biggest difference for us this year, one of our strengths, is that we’re a better team than we were last year. I think we’ve gotten a lot closer. I think we’re looking like a group that wants to play for each other — and that looks good for us into the future — and I think we’re only getting better with every weekend and practice that we have.
What are you expecting from the season?
We expect to be competing for a gold in the provincial championships. I think that’s definitely a goal that’s achievable for us, and we want to have an opportunity to be in nationals this year, so we need to put ourselves in that gold medal match to be able to do that. We’re striving for the highest that we can reach this year, and we feel that we have the pieces in place to be able to do that. And myself and all the guys on the team are motivated to get there.
How do you feel about how the season has been going so far?
I feel pretty good. We had a good start to the season with two good wins, had a tough five-set loss last weekend against one of the top teams in the league. But we’ve rebounded already with a win last night, and we’ll play the same team again today, and we feel pretty confident going into it. I think it’s a game we’ll win. Then, we go into a bye week, and then we go on two tough road trips. I feel good about where we are, and I think that we’re heading in the right direction to continue to do better.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.