UMFK Volleyball: Overcoming the Odds

FORT KENT, Me. (WAGM) - The UMFK women's volleyball team is trying to get back to the USCAA national championships. They've been the last five years. However, if they're going to bring the trophy back to the valley, they are going to have to overcome a pretty significant hurdle.

"This year we have seven girls," Head Coach Selina Castro said.

A volleyball team has 6 players on the floor. Therefore the Bengals only have one sub. Normally teams have five or six girls rotating in off the bench, but the Bengals are using their lack of depth to their advantage.

"I find that with a small team they have a better connection," Castro said. "They're practicing, the core group of them, all the time, everybody on the court everybody is trying their hardest, so you really get to know who you're playing next to."

For the girls that returned this year, having low numbers was initially surprising and it was a little bit of an adjustment.

Definitely something I've never done before," Senior Rachel Nance said. "It definitely requires a lot of hard work on everybody's part, especially on the coach and us seniors, you know we have to work together and make sure everyone is cooperating, I mean it's a lot of responsibility but I think we're making it work."

For one of the new players, she was pumped.

"I was excited," Junior transfer Kaylee Neher said. "The small numbers means that you're going to get better and get more playing time and it's like comforting you know you can trust everyone all around and then you like learn quick to play with everyone."

The girls play well with each other, but only having seven girls isn't really the norm. They go into every game eager to prove appearances can be deceiving.

"I think when we walk into a gym when we're playing someone they just assume oh they're only seven of them, we're going to beat them," Nance said. "I think we put up a good fight and when we come out with a win I think it's bitter for them, but it's so sweet for us."

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The goal of course is to get back to nationals, where they lost last year, but this year, Nance believes this team can go all the way.

"That was a rough loss, losing nationals but I think our team this year has a bit more drive than last year," Nance said. "I think we all want it for each other and because we're so small of a team I think we're more of a family this year and we're all playing for each other and you can tell that everyone wants it the same amount as the person next to them."