Disappointing Volleyball Season Draws Questions for Head Coach
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 13:11
The Summit League Volleyball Championships were held this weekend right here on campus. These games are always filled with intensity, so you certainly got a treat if you decided to watch at the BBF. You may have even gotten lucky enough to sit by one of the Bison volleyball players during these games.
Oh, did I forget to mention that NDSU didn’t make the four-team playoffs? The program that has made it to the NCAA tournament the last two years and three times out of the last four years did not make the playoffs. The program that was picked to finish atop the Summit League again this year did not make the playoffs. The program that is hosting the playoffs did not make the playoffs.
That is not good, folks.
Bison volleyball has developed a winning tradition. Former head coach Erich Hinterstocker, although considered a very strict coach, formed winners out of his recruits. He developed his players with a winning attitude.
In a strange sequence of events, Hinterstocker left his role as head coach in the middle of the 2010 season. Assistant coach Kari Thompson took over the interim role and finished the year 9-2 with a conference championship and NCAA tournament appearance.
Thompson was named the head coach beginning the 2011 season and again saw success. She was named Summit League Coach of the Year, won the conference title and made the NCAA tournament.
Coach Thompson appeared to be the heir apparent of Hinterstocker in continuing his winning ways. The one thing many fans didn’t seem to realize was this: Thompson was winning with Hinterstocker’s recruits.
Call me Negative Nancy, but it was true. You want proof? Look at this season. This year’s struggling Bison squad was glued together by the performances of seniors Brynn Joki and Megan Lambertson. Recruited by whom? Erich Hinterstocker.
Two other seniors, Catherine Yager and Andrea Henning, also contributed greatly to the team, but the chiropractor bills for Joki and Lambertson was overwhelming with how much they were carrying this team on their back.
These two kept the Bison in every match with ferocious kills, because when they came to NDSU, they were taught to be winners by Hinterstocker. The supporting cast this year was simply not good enough to compete consistently in the Summit League. Scattered with freshmen and sophomores, these players have yet to be developed, thus resulting in a lackluster and disappointing year.
That development is in the hands of coach Thompson and her staff. These are her recruits. Next year’s team will be the sole work of Thompson without any aid from Hinterstocker recruits. If the Bison want to get back on track, developing these young players in the offseason will be key.
Thompson may not bring the intensified tactics that Hinterstocker did, but she does need to bring his mentality to develop the players into winners. So far, she has not done so.
Am I saying coach Thompson is not fit for this job? No. Am I calling her recruiting weak? Not even close. A coach can get all the big-time recruits they want, but if you cannot develop that player into a college athlete, it doesn’t matter.
Kari Thompson no doubt has some work to do. Not reaching the playoffs this year, especially when hosting it on campus, will be a dark cloud following this team around until next year. If Thompson can’t get her team to be contenders again, she just may find herself in the hot seat.
A seat even worse than the one she was sitting in while watching the Summit League tournament this weekend.