If there was one word that St. Vincent volleyball coach Amy Umfleet stressed over and over again, it was improvement. That was the key word when the Lady Indians competed in the Jackson Tournament at the Cape Girardeau Sportsplex on Thursday.

“In a summer tournament I try to get everybody in to see what they can do,” Umfleet said. “While it would be nice to win the tournament, that’s what we come here to do.”

The Lady Indians went 3-5 in the tournament’s eight sets, but Umfleet says that it was a good day for her young team overall.

“We have a very young team this year and you could tell they were a little nervous when the day started,” Umfleet said. “By the end, it we looked more comfortable about where everybody is and what we are doing. A lot of the girls were freshmen and were playing in spots that they never played before. I thought we gave a lot of effort. ”

Umfleet wasn’t lying when she said her team was young. The Indians have just one senior on their roster for the upcoming season and two starters returning to the squad this year. 

The Indians went 13-17-1 last season, falling to  Arcadia Valley in the semifinal of the Class 2, Class 3 tournament. But Umfleet does not see that as a detriment. 

“This is a young team with a lot to learn,” she said. “However I think they are willing to go the extra mile. They want to be on the floor and they don’t care where they are, just as long as they are playing. It will be a little different going from seven seniors to just one, but I’m excited for the year and watching this group continue to grow. Are we going to go out there and win every game and lay the smack down on people? Probably not, but if we continue to improve, I think we will be able to compete with nearly everyone we play.”

One of the areas of growth for a young team is strength. 

Umfleet has made a point to concentrate on a type of circuit training to strengthen her team and get them ready for the fall, along with drills.

“When girls are young, they tend to be a little weak and they are doing great things there and we are trying to get them stronger,” Umfleet said. “Hopefully that will help us as we continue this summer and into the fall.”

The Indians will have one more tournament in late July at the Sportplex, ending their summer program. 

“Hopefully by then I can have a different conversation and keep seeing even more improvement. That is the goal this summer, especially as the team continues to grow together and be better than the day before.”

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