“He’s helped us by recruiting for character first and that has created a team of girls that really connect and are able to play well together because of that bond,” said Cisar, a senior on the TMU women’s volleyball team.
It doesn’t hurt to bring in athletes who also have obvious talent, and the Mustangs have plenty of that too.
Master’s rebounded from a five-set loss to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (AZ) on Wednesday morning to sweep John Brown University (AR) later in the day and deliver Vince’s 100th win as Mustangs head coach.
Now in his sixth season, Vince has compiled a 100-59 record, winning 20 or more matches three times. He is the second-winningest coach in program history.
“I think Allan’s ability to work through things alongside us and to hear us out has been crucial,” said senior Regan Tate, who record 15 kills in each of Wednesday’s matches. “The fact that he puts confidence in each and every one of us and our abilities despite our flaws has been awesome.”
Vince’s best run to date came in 2018 when Master’s won the first Golden State Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles in program history. The Mustangs reached those heights on the momentum of a strong start, something the team knew might be harder to come by in 2019.
The Mustangs (1-1) opened against Embry-Riddle, a team that reached the NAIA national tournament last season and entered this year receiving votes in the preseason poll. Master’s – No. 15 in Wednesday’s poll – will take on No. 13 Rocky Mountain College (MT) on Thursday.
Junior Madi Fay said this week that difficult matches early would serve the Mustangs well in the long run and that the team had stored up enough confidence last season to ride through any rough patches in 2019.
Embry-Riddle’s Caylee Robalin was intent on testing that theory Wednesday. The junior outside hitter compiled 24 kills in TMU’s 3-2 loss. She hit .346 and recorded the final kill in set five after the Mustangs had closed to within 14-13.
Master’s answered Robalin with Tate and Fay.
Fay, an opposite hitter who is serving as a part-time setter for the first time in her collegiate career, posted career highs in assists (18) and digs (15) against Embry-Riddle. Her 14 kills were one shy of a career-high. But on that previous occasion (Nov. 3, 2017 against Menlo), she needed 37 attempts and only hit .297.
Wednesday, she hit at a .542 clip, surpassing .500 in a match for the first time.
“I think Madi had a great day,” Tate said. “She had a pretty good all-around game, and she’s doing a great job stepping in right where and when the team needed her most.”
For Tate, Wednesday marked the fourth time in her career that she recorded back-to-back matches of double-digit kills. She accomplished the feat once last season.
“I think our teamwork was the thing that really pushed me today,” Tate said. “The fact that everyone that came on the court came in wanting to work hard, no matter what, made me want to do the same. And then just getting in a groove with my setters and having the confidence in myself to just go for every ball to try and score was a huge factor.”
Katie Emmerling, a junior transfer from Fresno City College, made her Mustangs debut at setter, tallying 29 assists against Embry-Riddle. She had 21 assists against John Brown, with the Mustangs outlasting the Golden Eagles in two competitive sets to open the match.
In set three, John Brown pulled even at 25 before the Mustangs scored the final two points on kills by Fay and Cisar. The win presented Vince with a milestone and an opportunity to reflect on what he loves about the environment in which he works.
“I’ve been able to steadily see growth by being faithful to developing each student-athlete, rather than winning at all costs,” he said.
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