By Matt Petersen
Change is a funny thing, and the way it happens depends on how the viewers see it unfold. Be around your parents, siblings or friends on a near-constant basis, and it’s nearly impossible to tell how they’ve evolved without consciously thinking about it.
Step away for a few weeks, months or years, however, and change rears its startling head. Instead of a comfortable drop by wearing drop process, it hits like a crushing wave of unfamiliarity.
Wolverine faithful will know this firsthand within the next couple weeks, when the women’s soccer and volleyball teams make their overdue return to Orem after combining for just one home game in a one-month span.
For soccer, change may not be a bad thing. After going just 1-3 at home to start the season, they’ve gone a solid 3-3 against stiff non-conference competition. Wins over Idaho, Idaho State and Montana, plus a close 2-1 los to Baylor, may indicate the Wolverines are indeed changing for the better even before the easier Great West Conference slate of games arrive.
A big part of that is scoring, as UVU is finally familiarizing itself with the back of the net. After managing just three goals total over their first six regular season games, they’ve scored 10 over their last four contests.
Redshirt sophomore Natalie Young is a big part of that. Her four goals and four assists (12 points) made for double the points of any other player on the roster heading into the weekend. Young personifies the evolution the soccer team, one loaded with __ underclassmen, needed to have.
Volleyball is a different story. A sterling 6-2 start at home has given way to mediocrity on the move. Wins over the likes of Syracuse, Santa Clara and BYU Hawaii have given way to losses to Northern Arizona, Kansas State and Saint Mary’s. Consecutive wins over Sacramento State and Weber State have pushed their road record on the right side of .500, but it’s clear the Wolverines are now righting a ship that appeared Titanic before hitting the road.
Part of that may be the (over)abundance of weapons. Senior Chelsey Heaps leads the team in kills and kill attempts (421) but boasts the lowest conversion percentage (.152) among the top seven scorers. Second-leading scorer Lindsay Barker is .001 better in terms of accuracy.
Meanwhile Erica Nish, Sarah Clement, and Jaicee Kuresa all boast better kill rates but see far fewer opportunities to score. Given that the trio accounts for all three GWC Player of the Week Awards the team has received thus far, it’s fair to ask: does the offense need to be tweaked?
It’s another question of change that, like the others, will be startlingly apparent when the teams return.