Words like shank, pepper, gator, pancake, thunder and chaos don’t normally appear in one place. However, those familiar with the sport may recognize them as a part of volleyball jargon.
Last year, Pierce College had an all-sophomore team. This year, the team has all freshman recruits, but head coach Doug Carlson and assistant coach Ben Gomes are enthusiastic for the outcome of the 2013 season.
The team currently is 6-5 in league play.
This is Carlson’s second year as volleyball coach at Pierce. In his first year, the team nearly qualified for the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championships. Carlson is also the operations manager for the Health Education Center at the Fort Steilacoom campus. Ben Gomes is also the campus safety supervisor.
Competing across the Northwest, the new team is already developing as a tight-knit group with the NWAACC championships as their goal.
“The biggest challenge is the experience factor. We’ve got an extremely talented team of freshman, so we’ve got some really tremendous players,” Carlson said.
“It’s not only their first year on the team but their first year in college. Growth and maturing is a big part of it, and that just comes with experience,” Gomes added.
Carlson is dedicated to the whole-team concept. Training each of his players to be well-rounded in all aspects of the game is important to their success.
“You’ve got to be flexible and ready to go,” Carlson said. “None of the facets of volleyball should be lacking whether it’s blocking, hitting, serving, receiving or scramble.”
On top of game success, the Raiders also are required to do grade checks every two to three weeks. This ensures that players can remain solid from their first year to the next, further developing team strength and student success.
“If they don’t keep themselves eligible, and they don’t do the work in the classroom, it really impacts the next year’s season,” Gomes said.
To get to the NWAACC championships tournament, teams must be in the top four of each rank.
The Raiders have already battled solid contenders Treasure Valley and Linn-Benton, emerging victorious. The Raiders are excited for the match against rivals Tacoma Community College. This year’s championships, held in Gresham, Ore., are looking promising this year.
Despite a slow start, the team ultimately owes their success to a great dynamic and a great facility.
“When you have winning programs and the students are successful, success just happens,” Carlson said.
Having the HEC is advantageous in recruitment; it also creates a winning environment. In the past, Pierce had to outsource training to other facilities.
“We have to get better. We have the facility now,” Gomes said.
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