By Andrew Nelson, Contributor
The UNO Women’s volleyball team is still climbing the mountain that is competing with fellow division one teams. The program is making some serious progress however as its second year of a division-1 slate is dwindling down. One player in particular is helping the Mavericks make this climb a little bit less treacherous, that player, is team captain Kimberly Bailey.
Bailey is a redshirt sophomore who has been a vital weapon for the Mavs. She is currently fifth in the Summit League in digs per set with 3.60, and also fifth overall in digs on the season with 270. The Lincoln native has starred this season against some stiff competition, aiding the Mavs with 18 digs earlier this year against 15th ranked Oklahoma, and bettered that with 28 digs versus Houston Baptist in the first contest of this season. UNO’s volleyball team is very young and is still “working through some growing pains” says Bailey, but the team is still very optimistic about the future for UNO in the Summit League conference.
“We’re just trying to work through the growing pains,” Baily said. “We’re a young team but the errors we’ve had so far are fixable, so we just have to work at eliminating those simple mistakes.”
The lady Mavs are currently seventh in the Summit League with a 6-16 record (1-6 in conference play). The team is young, consisting of four freshmen, two juniors, and seven sophomores. With two years remaining until UNO is eligible for post-season play the Mavs are sure to get the experience in that these young players will need, which makes for a very bright future for the players as well as the university.
As a team captain Bailey has not only shown great skill on the court, but also great leadership. Although she doesn’t lead in a ‘chant yelling, fist pumping’ type of way, it’s more productive than that and still sets a bar for younger players and fellow teammates alike.
“Being a team captain is difficult at times,” Bailey said. “But it’s no different than being a player, I just like to really lead by example”.
Another aspect that will also help the Mavs the next few seasons is the chemistry they’ve been building this year and will to continue to build in the offseason and into next season. “I trust them like sisters,” Bailey says about her teammates.
That trust is a big component any team needs. Kimberly also says that Coach Shire’s 23 years of experience (all at the helm here at UNO) have helped her and the cast of young players on this year’s Maverick squad.
“We’d like to win at least 3 more games out of our 7 remaining, we won’t settle for anything less than that,” Bailey said.
That’s the goal set by Bailey and the UNO volleyball team as they enter the latter part of their conference schedule. Finishing in the top 6 in conference is also a goal desired by the team. With these realistic goals set, achieving them could send the Mavs into the offseason with a mindset of confidence.
Bailey is a native of Lincoln, NE, where she was an all-state honorable mention twice before being named third team Super State, and class A all-state her senior season in volleyball. She was also chosen to play in the Nebraska All-Star volleyball game her senior season and was an all-city honoree by the Lincoln Journal Star, her third all-city accolade of her prep career. Bailey says her greatest achievement in volleyball so far, was beating the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes last spring in an exhibition match.
“Even though it was an exhibition match, beating Iowa last spring is probably my favorite memory so far,” Kimberly said. “Any time you beat a team from a conference like that it’s always a big moment.”
Although Bailey is a sophomore on the court, she’s a junior in the classroom and is well on her way to a career in Public Relations & Advertising. She’s already has an an internship off campus since last February and appears to have a bright future ahead of her.
The Mavericks volleyball team is progressing week in and week out, and seems to have a very optimistic future ahead of them. Team captain Kimberly Bailey is just one solid piece of this puzzle and still has two seasons left with the Mavs. Even though the wins are not there yet Bailey and the rest of her teammates are readying themselves for the seasons to come. There’s no doubt this program is on the rise and will be ready to compete once post-season play begins in the fall of 2015.