Volleyball in dire need of change of direction

Originally published October 29, 2010

In two years, a lot has changed.

But in two years, Bradley volleyball has changed very little, and the two-year anniversary of the Braves’ last Missouri Valley Conference win is quickly approaching.

On Nov. 15, 2008, the Braves defeated Missouri State 3-1, but since then have not been able to find their way back into the win column in the Valley.

That also happens to be the first year of current head coach Sean Burdette.

Burdette came to Bradley after a successful tenure at Ohio State as an assistant coach to a team that was nationally ranked during three of his five years of service.

When he came to Bradley, Burdette said he set goals for this program.

“Our expectations were to come in and build a successful program,” Burdette said.

Although the Braves have shown improvement in their overall record since he has taken over, progress has been slight.

The year before Burdette’s arrival, the team’s record was 3-28. In his first two complete seasons, the Braves finished 6-26 and 9-23 overall.

Those numbers may be better, but are they really up to Bradley’s standards?

But that’s not even the most startling statistic.

In Burdette’s time as a head coach, the Braves have compiled a 2-45 record in the Valley, including the current 31-game losing streak to conference foes.

If, as a school, you open up a brand new $50 million arena and call it a “coliseum,” it should be an objective to make sure the teams playing there on a nightly basis are be pretty darn good.

Burdette attributes the woes in the Valley to health issues.

“We’ve had our two highest point-production players last year both have season ending injuries,” he said.

But in 2008, the leader in kills per game for the Braves was Amy Reichel and she repeated that feat in 2009. Reichel also appeared in every match.

Several other players also were at the top of the score sheet for the Braves and appeared in at least half of the games the next season.

So I guess that injuries have kept most of the points off the floor for this team.

Over the course of the rest of the season, the Braves have the opportunity to turn things around.

According to Burdette, they only need one thing.

“We’d certainly like to get our squad healthy,” Burdette said.

And that isn’t the only reason players haven’t been finding the court. Burdette has also seen several players leave the team for non-health reasons.

Overall, it has been a rough tenure for Burdette tenure.

“I think we’ve had some unfortunate injuries to some impact players that has prevented us from getting to where we want as quickly as we wanted to,” Burdette said.

In the end, this team has not performed up to the standards of  a major Div. I program.

With many other programs on the up swing and a new home for this team, change needs to be made.  Now.