POCATELLO – At the end of Saturday’s first practice Idaho State volleyball head coach Chad Teichert asked his team who was going to win the Big Sky Championship.
The response, a resounding “we are”.
The 2013 ISU volleyball team has set a lofty but reachable goal for itself in its hopes to win the elusive Big Sky title especially considering the 2012 team was one game away from bringing home the crown.
Leading 2-0 against the defending conference champion Northern Colorado, before watching the defending champs roar back and take the match and the title 3-2.
That loss still stings the Bengals as practice began Saturday and will serve as motivation for the remainder of the season.
“I still don’t think that I am every going to forget it because I don’t want to forget how I felt after that game because I know I never want to feel that way again,” reigning Big Sky MVP Lori Mendenhall said. “I think it is always good to have that feeling in the back of my mind.”
“I still have not forgotten and I don’t think that is a bad thing,” redshirt sophomore Tressa Lyman said. “This year, we know what we need to work on and we know we cannot let up ever. I think it is great to never forget a loss because it humbles you and makes you work harder”
Entering the seventh season of Teichert’s tenure as head coach the Bengals are no stranger to working hard. Every year since Teichert arrived on campus the Bengals have gotten better and so close to bringing home the conference title.
The 2012 squad posted a 23-8 record which is tied for the third winningest record in school history. They went 10-0 at home, that mark was just the second time a team had gone through the home schedule undefeated.
Mendenhall was just the second Bengal to take home the conference MVP award and Teichert tool home coach of the year honors. While the individual honors are nice, it is the team goal of winning a championship that is much more important.
“It is pretty easy to put all of the offseason distractions behind me because I know this is going to be the last time I will get to play in a college gym,” Mendenhall said. “It would be pretty sweet to go out and accomplish the goal you have had ever since you started playing. The individual honors are nice and very humbling, but I really want to win that Big Sky title and make some history.”
The Bengals will have to make that history without two key pieces from last season as Breanne Van Every and Jaclyn Hone-Hawkins were lost to graduation.
“They are impossible to replace because they both were very talented and incredible teammates,” Mendenhall said. “Without that leadership on the team we need the younger girls to step up and try to replace them.”
As the lone senior, Mendenhall will be asked to be a leader a role she will embrace with open arms.
Three other returning starters return with Lyman and Mendenhall this season. Junior Kylee Searle, Whitney Bartschi and Alydia Fields all will be tasked with helping the Bengals compete their season objective.
The Bengals open the season Aug. 30 at the University of Missouri Tournament when they take on South Dakota State.