Coaches will often tell you that numbers don't tell you the whole story. A quick glance at Virginia Commonwealth University's 9-16 overall record, and their story appears to be a somber one. Yet the Rams have plenty of things to be happy about as they currently sit in sole possession of second place in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Flash back to one month ago and somber might have understated the mood of the Black & Gold. The team was fresh off their brutal non-conference schedule of six ranked teams, including three-time defending national champion Penn State. Momentum was at a minimum as the Rams headed into conference play with a record of 2-13.
"This season, I really had to make a mental differentiation between our preseason schedule and our conference schedule like I never had before. It's easy to look at our record, and say, "hey it just wasn't in the cards for them this year, it's just not working out," Senior Kelsie Clegg (pictured right) said. "But if you look beyond the record, there's an amazing story of a maturing program and a tight knit group of girls who haven't let one of the third toughest schedules in the nation get them down."
The coaching staff took the positives out of their first 15 matches. Their weaknesses had been exposed, their athleticism had been tested, and their team bond had been formed.
"I don't think we can be any more prepared. I think that we've gotten to isolate what we needed to focus on and work hard at the things we were already good at," Head Coach James Finley noted going into conference play.
True to their coach's words, the Rams came out and showed just how prepared they were. Nine matches later, the Rams are riding a five-match conference winning streak and barreling down at a CAA Tournament birth. During this run, the team's success has been highlighted by individual achievements as well:
- Kelsie Clegg (once) and Marisa Low (twice) have both won CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors so far this season.
- Head Coach James Finley earned the 100th victory of his VCU career.
- Kelsie Clegg became the Rams' all-time block leader.
With seven matches remaining, the last five of which are at home, VCU is on the verge of finishing in the top tier of the conference for a third consecutive year. Despite what the statistics might otherwise indicate, VCU Volleyball is taking center court.
Written by VCU Athletic Communications Graduate
Assistant Matt Ensor