Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast volleyball ready to compete in end of season matches

Monday, October 9, 2017

Southeast Volleyball’s senior middle blocker Nzingha Clarke is finishing her career strong as the team enters the second half of its season.

Head Coach Julie Yankus said she is optimistic about the team and believes the team is in a good place for a good finish.

“We need to continue on the path that we’re on because we’ve lost some very close sets and matches. We are there skill and talent wise, we must get over that hump and continue to work on our defense. Everything else has improved with the team. Our hitting, blocking and kill percentage has improved since last year. We need to tweak some things, especially on defense to stay on the right track,” Yankus said.

Southeast has had problems away from home going 0-5 so far this season.

“We’ve tried several things while evaluating the issue, like do you go the day before the match or the day of the match? I think for us we must remain relaxed and find the right routine that will work for us that will help us be successful on the road. Those long bus rides on the road takes its toll on the athletes and sometimes they get out of our routine,” Yankus said.

Southeast has a fairly new Team and Yankus said the effort to get everyone on the same page doing the same routine is challenging. Volleyball is like other sports in which errors are committed and it is up to the coach to keep the team focused and relaxed.

The team has come out strong for the last two matches and they look to continue those quick starts Yankus said.

“When we do make errors, we have to force the other team to earn the next point and not just give another point away,” Yankus said. We have minimized a lot of our errors and learned from our mistakes. I think coming out with a quick start is good and beneficial for our team. We’ve worked on that because of some slow starts on the road playing in the morning. During warm-ups we’ve made it more intense, so that they will go, go, go and once the match starts we are prepared and ready to get started.

Southeast will be losing senior outside hitter Krissa Gearring, senior middle blocker Jessica McElderry, senior outside hitter Marie Less, senior setter Allie Henkelman and senior middle blocker Nzingha Clarke.

“It’s going to be a tough class to replace. The recruiting process with Division I volleyball is an endless cycle starting from the sophomore year or earlier in high school,” Yankus said.

We have 5 verbally committed players coming in for the 2018 season. This season is not done yet and we are ready to make a good push with a lot of conference games left and I hope the seniors make it the best year yet.

Clarke leads the Ohio Valley Conference with 83 total blocks and she ranks No. 21 in the NCAA.

“I credit my success to a lot of hard work, listening to my coaching staff and the willingness to make adjustment to my game doing something that’s comfortable to me and beneficial for my play,” Clarke said. I owe credit to my other blockers who help me out a lot. We make sure that we’re on the same page always and doing our part. I must stay focused at practice with blocking, keeping my form right and focus on timing to have success for the rest of the season. My focus now is on conference play, doing well and going as far as we can go.

Clarke aspires to be a volleyball coach one day. She is majoring in psychology and her minor is sports management. She plans on going to graduate school in sports psychology.

“Always make sure that you get your school work done and take volleyball serious,” Clarke said. It’s scheduled so you will know what’s going on, communicate with your teachers and practicing good time management is the key to be a successful student athlete.

The team takes advantage of the tutoring service and other resources available on campus to help them out with academics Clarke said.

“They are studying something that they will do for the next 30 to 40 years but only play sports for 4 years,” Yankus said. School comes first but we manage things that we need to, making adjustments for school work and rescheduling them for workouts in the gym some other time if needed and still get the best out of them as athletes. They get the benefit and the privilege to play a sport that they love and help it facilitate them to getting a degree in what they want to do in life.