Sept. 8, 2010
We are two weeks into the season and our team is off to a 5-1 start. Our lone loss came to Tennessee last weekend. A match like that shows that we’re not invincible and that in order to get to where we want to go, we’re going to have to play hard every game. We cannot come out too casually, especially because of the teams this weekend (No. 16 Kentucky, Kansas State, Virginia Commonwealth) and their caliber of play. Our team has a lot of talent and if we continue to work together we can get right back into the NCAA postseason. Our matches last weekend served as a wakeup call. We’re a good team but we cannot take other teams lightly. Against Tennessee we sat back and didn’t take control. We’ve learned that we’ll have to be more aggressive at certain points. At the same time, a loss in our fifth match of the year isn’t horrible.
All three teams at the Kentucky Tournament this weekend will be tough. With UK, we heard we were going to play them last spring. We beat them in the NCAA Tournament a season ago and they are going to be looking for revenge. Our team has to come out hungry because they remember what if felt like to beat the Wildcats in five thrilling sets a year ago. We won that match by two points, 16-14, in the last set. We want to come out and prove that we are the better team. However, we can’t overlook any one team. Teams are out there to beat us, and this weekend will be a good chance to redeem our first loss of the year. We’re supposed to be a Top 20 team, and Kentucky, Kansas State and VCU will come ready and prepared against us. Every team in the field is good, so any win will help.
Even though we’re 5-1 and have looked great at times, we sometimes go up and down and will have our moments of brilliance. We’re getting to where we want to be, but we have to learn to be consistent. When we’re up on teams, many times we can’t be stopped, but against other teams we’re making a match a lot closer than what it should be. Consistency is a big thing for us.
All in all, we’ve felt pretty comfortable with this team. We’ve shown how much talent we have. Visnja (Djurdjevic) is awesome and reliable in every aspect of her game. I think we realize we have a lot of individual talent, but we can’t win matches like that. Our team must continue to communicate, and have productive communication when we’re out there. No matter what, we’re confident when we walk out on the court with this team.
Aug. 26, 2010
The four seniors share their thoughts on the excitement of opening the season:
This week has been quite different for all of us now that classes have started. Our two-a-day practices have ended and our days basically consist of going to classes, then to practice, then to home and sleeping. We’ll be having a team pasta dinner after tomorrow’s match courtesy of Jenna Romanelli’s parents. Our team has also done things together like go bowling, going to the movies and other dinners to help build our chemistry. Each event is always fun for us.
Being seniors now, it sometimes can still be an adjustment going to classes. But as a student-athlete you know what you have to get done. There’s school and the season, and then there’s training in the offseason along with summer classes. It definitely gets easier year after year, and our underclassmen will come to realize that as well.
Our six new players continue to fit in well, and will be a substantial piece to what we hope is another successful season. It’s hard for a setter to come in and learn new sets based on what she has been accustomed to before. They’re all adjusting well and learning the sets well, and they’re doing a great job of following how things are done on this team. We know they’re here because they love to play volleyball, and they have a great attitude and passion for the game. All of these players will make an impact for us.
Our two-a-days were great for allowing us to work on our rotations. We got in the swing of things again. But our opening match on Friday night is why we have trained throughout the offseason. There has been a lot of hype for us this year, coach Poole has hyped us up to the media. But our assistant coach Gokhan Yilmaz always says, “You haven’t won a single point yet.” He always keeps things in perspective.
We’re excited to see how the new girls react. We’re going to have a big crowd with all of the success last season, we’ll have the band and plenty of fans. We feed so much off our crowd and feel blessed to play in front of such wonderful fans!
With the start of a new season comes the end of our last preseason. We’re not really sure whether to be sad considering the real season is finally here, so it’s kind of bittersweet. We all have in the back of our minds that this is our final season, but it will hit us more in the middle and toward the latter part of the year. It will be weird to stop going to the places you’ve traveled to over the years, but right now we’re ready to begin our season and reflect on our memorable years here when the time is necessary.
Aug. 20, 2010
Common thoughts by the four seniors entering Saturday’s Alumni Match:
With all the success we had last season going to the Elite Eight, this preseason has been totally different. Our team has continued to work and train very hard, and there is a ton of maturity throughout, from freshmen to seniors. Coach Poole has conducted practice a lot differently as well, skipping the basics and peppering and allowing us to even play six on the six the first day of practice. We have so much talent defensively on this team that it is actually making our hitters that much better because of the intense competition they’re facing in the back. The hitters are having to be more creative in scoring points, which will help them throughout the year.
We’ve worked so well together, including in the Spring when we didn’t have half our team here. But ever since the freshmen and junior transfers have come in, there hasn’t been a transition problem at all. Everyone has jelled so well and we’ve got big expectations once again this year.
Like many of our new players, Visnja Djurdjevic has really stood out. She is so easy to play next to. Patty (Figueiredo) has also been great for us. It was difficult at first for her to come in and try to learn the new sets when other setters like Duygu (Duzceler) had a year under their belts. Patty is a great athlete and has had two weeks now to get used to all of us. Besides having some good new players, we also have some top-level returning players, and everyone is really on the same page.
There is a much different mentality with our team. We’ve gotten some attention being ranked 15th in the preseason poll, being picked to win the ACC and making the run like we did last season. We’re not surprised if we go out there and win and take care of business. We have a target on our back now and every team is preparing for us in advance, and we know we must go into every match with our ‘A’ game.
We’re all very confident in this team. We’ve got a lot of strengths and everyone compliments each other very well. If we mistakes we know people are there to usually cover for us, and vice versa. There’s plenty of depth on this team with girls who can come off the bench and make us stronger, and our coaches can make adjustments with that. In year’s past, we may have been a really good hitting team but our defense was weak, or our defense may have been real good but our hitting was so-so. This year, there isn’t a weak link and it makes us more well-rounded.
We think one of the best things about this year’s group is the camaraderie. We have a lot of fun with these girls. It wasn’t too long ago where we didn’t know some of our teammates, and now everyone is always laughing and always having fun. That’s going to be something that will help us out so much along the way and hopefully make us an even better team.