WAYNE – A goal each season for the Wayne State College Wildcat volleyball team is to compete for a national title, but this year that won’t happen.
After the announcement of fall sports championships being canceled earlier this week for Division II and III, NSIC members schools will be holding a series of meetings making a decision on all regular season conference contests.
Head Wildcat volleyball coach Scott Kneifl will be entering his 16th season leading the program. Coach Kneifl said the great ones adjust.
“Never has that statement meant more than right now,” said Kneifl. “We have to adjust to the times of what’s going on and try to keep our players in a positive mindset. Keep them fit, not just physically but mentally as well.”
The NSIC Board of Directors made their announcement of delaying fall sports competition in late July as the first permissible practice for volleyball and women’s soccer within the conference was set for Tuesday, September 8. The first date of competition would then be Friday, October 2.
Recruiting has also seen it’s struggles as coach Kneifl added the staff is still communicating with recruits and have had a few visits recently.
“It’s definitely slowing down the process which that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Kneifl added. “But at the same time, we’re trying to figure out rosters down the road and what’s going to happen here. We’re just trying to adjust that way as well.”
Wayne State College has their 2021 recruiting class set and will continue to recruit hard for the 2022s.
The Wildcat volleyball team held a team camp on July 10. Two other camps in June and another in late July were canceled. Coach Kneifl mentioned over 40 teams participated during their lone camp.
“It was good to see,” Kneifl mentioned. “It was good to see athletics again and I think a lot of the high school area kids had a good time at the camp. We were able to see some local talent which was great.”
Wildcat volleyball players reported back June 1 and have been in town working out four days a week in the weight room and performing workouts. Thursday was their last day of summer workouts and the day prior they found out they won’t be competing for the NCAA tournament.
The team’s goal is to play and win the tournament as coach Kneifl said the team isn’t there to play for fun.
“Obviously, it’s fun for them and they enjoy the sport but they play to win and they play to win championships,” said Kneifl. “To not have that opportunity is definitely a punch in the gut.”
WSC is planning to open their season during the first weekend of October by making the trek north to University of Mary and Minot State, pending an updated announcement from the conference. The Wildcat volleyball home opener would be Friday, October 9 against Northern State at 6 p.m. and MSU Moorhead coming to town on Saturday, October 10 at 1 p.m.
Of the original 20-game schedule, WSC will be losing road games at Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State and home matches against Sioux Falls, Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State.
Wayne State College finished the 2019 season at 24-7 overall and fifth place in the NSIC with a 14-6 league mark. The Wildcats were ranked 13th in the final regular season AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Also, one of the newest sports to Wayne State College was beach volleyball as the team finished 3-4 in the shortened season which included an outing against Nebraska.
“There’s going to be two different types of people,” Kneifl added. “The people that get worse during this time and the people that get better. We’re definitely going to choose to get better. Right now, after the news (Wednesday) it’s just a little disheartening.”
Both the Wayne State College volleyball (fall) and beach (spring) volleyball teams received the United State Marine Corps (USMC) and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award. The WSC beach volleyball team was one of 41 programs to receive the award, recording an impressive team cumulative grade point average of 3.80. The fall volleyball team extended their longest active streak in NCAA Division II for receiving the honor being 18 straight years following a 3.80 cumulative grade point average.
The award, initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors volleyball teams that maintain a year-long grade point average of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale.