Chemistry and Drive: Packer trio leading the charge to get Austin more wins

Published 7:01 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

The last time the Austin volleyball team won a Big Nine match, Elyse Hebrink was a third-grader, Jenna Braaten and Teddi Eisenberg were both fifth-grader. The Packers have had some close calls in their attempts to snap that streak over the past six seasons, but this summer the team has found a drive and a team chemistry that it hopes will carry them to new success when the season tips off this fall.

“We all want the same goal and that’s to win,” Hebrink said. “We’re here for fun, but it’s not just about having fun.”

Austin head coach Cindy Owen said that Hebrink, Braaten and Eisenberg have all been dedicated to putting in time with the team over this summer. The Packers have been practicing two days per week, they competed in a 42-team camp in Sioux Falls and they held a camp in Austin this past week. The team has drawn nearly 20 players at most offseason activities and Owen said she has a very coachable group that clearly wants to improve.

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“[Teddi, Elyse and Jenna] come to practice all the time and they come with a great attitude. They work really hard,” Owen said. “I know kids have a lot going on in the summer, and I do respect that, but I do know that those three have made an effort to be here consistently and I really appreciate that. It’s going to pay off.”

Austin finished last season with a record of 4-22 overall and its been since 2009 when the team finished with double-digit wins, but that history hasn’t hampered the attitude of the Packers this summer. The team has taken on a mantra that it picked up at the Sioux Falls camp — “Refuse to be outworked.”

Eisenberg said the Packers are embracing the fact that they’ll be under the radar this fall.

“I think there are a lot of hard working girls here and we’re easy to play with,” she said. “That makes it easy to communicate. We’re really motivated and we’re all working hard towards the same goal. It makes it easier when the person next you is pushing you to get better.”

Communication was one of the Packers’ problems in past years and the team has spent a lot of their summer focusing on building up its team chemistry. Braaten said the squad’s attitude has taken a big turn in the right direction.

“We’ve all played together a long time and we’re all really good friends,” Braaten said. “One of the biggest things we’ve struggled with is we don’t play together enough as a team. At the Sioux Falls camp, every single drill we did was team based and we brought some of those back here. I think that will help us a lot.”

Austin will compete in a summer set of scrimmages in Mankato in August and it will open its regular season when it hosts Rochester Lourdes on Aug. 25. Owen said the team is doing everything it can to be competitive when the season begins.

“The kids have been very, very positive and the kids want to do well,” Owen said. “They’re willing to work hard.”