The UNF women’s volleyball team lost to Seattle in their match Oct. 25, setting the team back with another loss on its record.
Although the Ospreys fell to Seattle 3-1, they have a different outlook on their season than wins and losses, head coach Kevin Campbell said.
The women’s volleyball team, along with other UNF athletic programs, has been pushing to advance to Division I play, which it did. Before this season, volleyball was never a Division I program, but it competed against Division I teams.
Not being a Division I program means less scholarships to offer to quality players compared to programs that have been able to offer scholarships and build a reputation for decades.
In most conferences, out of the 33 in the NCAA Division I, more than one team in the conference goes to the NCAA tournament. In the Atlantic Sun Conference, however, only the team who wins the Atlantic Sun moves on to the NCAA tournament.
This year the Ospreys only have 10 conference games, making every one crucial to their season. The Atlantic Sun is a single-round conference, the only of its kind, meaning fewer conference games.
“It makes it a lot harder because you only see a conference opponent once, and you have to be good right then,” Campbell said.
Being able to compete in the A-Sun tournament depends on a couple of different aspects. It depends on how many conference games the Ospreys win. It also depends on how well the other teams in the conference compete. The Ospreys currently stand in eighth place out of the 11 teams in the conference, with a 2-4 record.
UNF has four conference games left, and the team is focused on that record, rather than their overall record. The overall record of the team does not affect the standings in the conference, so the team focuses on conference games.
“[Conference] is still in reach for us, we just have to perform well,” Campbell said.
The three freshman starters and five sophomores on the team are setting the foundation for the future of the program, she said.
“I think every year is a new team. We have new teammates, we have a new setter and everything, but I think our team is really good together,” senior outside hitter Jessica Catelano said.
It is a young team, but that doesn’t stop them from competing.
“We just need to keep playing strong and age won’t matter so much,” sophomore libero Nicole Baran said.
This spring, the team will bring back nine returners if everything goes right, which the team can start to build off of, Baran said.
If the Ospreys win the rest of their conference games, they will make it to the A-Sun tournament. If the team should only win two of their remaining games, then the other teams would hold the Ospreys’ future in their hands.
Although the women’s volleyball team is focused for the future, it realizes the mistakes that cannot happen again.
“The Mercer match was one we should have won and did not play well,” Campbell said. “So we can’t let that happen. We learned from that experience obviously to come out stronger.”
Campbell wanted her team to learn and grow for the future, she said.
“I’ve decided to play some tough teams that will challenge us, that will show us what the level is that we should be playing,” she said.
The Ospreys conference play continues in Nashville, Tenn., where they play Lipscomb and Belmont Oct. 29, and Oct. 30.