Retriever’s volleyball is improving their record this season to an inspiring 13-5 record after falling below .500 last season and currently sit at a comfortable 4-2 in the conference. The biggest improvement for the Retrievers has been their improved defensive play.
Sophomore Kristin Watson is the best example of these improvements, taking huge steps forward to be the surprise defensive specialist for coach Ian Blanchard’s side.
Watson, a Bowie native, was a sturdy rotational player during her freshman year. At the end of the 2015 season, the Retrievers made a commitment as a team to increase their total number of digs to match the conference record. Watson answered this call with enthusiasm. Her performance this last week has earned Watson her second America East Conference defensive player of the week award that she has received this season.
Though Watson was not the starting libero at the year’s start, she knows what got her to that position.
“He [coach Blanchard] wanted someone to get as many digs as possible,” said Watson. “I worked my way up and he realized that as I was playing more as a defensive specialist, I was getting more digs and his trusting me was awesome.”
And though it was a long road up, she has more than earned her keep to stay at this position. Averaging 4.7 digs per set is a game changer on any team and on a Retrievers side that is collectively a great defensive unit, Watson’s support has been imperative to success.
“Our team chemistry has improved during the off season and with our new freshman and transfers, everybody had the same goal: to win, to play as well as we can and to do that we need to continue the rallies,” said Watson on the improving group defense for the Retrievers.
Women’s volleyball is coming off of a three game win streak in the conference after a shaky two game losing streak. The trick to continued conference success, according to Watson, is as simple as the basics.
“It’s what we’ve been focusing on, our losses in August and at the start of conference play have been against tough opponents, so that’s something good to play up [to], and as we get a chance to play them again and our other opponents, we’re ready to play the best we can.”
The Retrievers are playing well in this final stretch of the season and are looking to keep momentum going as they hope to clinch a postseason spot in conference play. Watson made her thoughts on the team’s performances clear,”We’re playing as confident as we can.”
The confidence shows; coach Blanchard’s side have the best overall record of AEC sides and are sitting third in conference play. As the season crawls to its end they are hoping to hold to the basics and keep their impressive form going. If the team can manage to do that then one thing is clear: Kristin Watson will be one of the centerpieces for that success.