The women’s Volleyball team lost to Sacramento State last Tuesday evening. The players said that they were not fully prepared for the game, and on top of that, they came out with low energy. “We should have started strong from the beginning with our energy and level of play” said Dane Miller, junior libero from Santa Barbara. Despite the results, the Dons put up a fight; Carly Lowry, sophomore outside hitter, executed 12 kills in the match. The team also played a strong defense, tying their personal record of 65 digs in one match.
This past weekend, the women’s Volleyball team headed down to Southern California to compete against CSU Bakersfield, UC Irvine and Long Beach State in a two-day Invitational tournament. The Dons were met with fierce competition and unfortunately lost against all three competing teams, continuing their pattern for traveling games. Even though the Dons were not ultimately successful in these matches, they did have personal victories. Laura Leap, junior middle blocker, tied her individual record of executing 10 kills in one match against Bakersfield. Leap also upped her blocking record to 15 solo blocks, breaking both her own individual record, and the team’s. Erica Ronda, freshman outside hitter, also had impressive offensive play with 29 kills over the course of the Invitational. The last few away games did not ended in the Dons’ favor, but they plan to up the ante to make the winning difference.
The majority of players on the court this season are new, both transfers and freshman. Four of the current starting players are new to the team, two freshman and two transfers.
Miller, a junior libero, said, “As a returner, I know it can be hard to adapt to a new team, but this year it has been a good transition learning everyone’s tendencies. Everyone has stepped up and really done well in their position and I think that is a big reason why we have been more successful than last year.”
Even though the team has had many new players join them, they report having a very strong dynamic.
In addition to having many new players, the entire women’s volleyball coaching staff is also new to USF. The coaches’ have been working hard to establish their culture.
“We have really stressed the importance of the environment we want to train in and the chemistry within the team,” said Ali Skayhan, associate head volleyball coach. During the women’s preseason, the team embarked on a four-day trip up to Northern California, where they practiced as a team and had time to get to know each other. The early team bonding experience was huge for the team’s unity.
Looking back at the women’s volleyball team’s record thus far, the team has followed a pattern. The Dons seem to reap better results when playing at home. The statistics show that the women’s team has only lost one home game this season. However, when the team travels, they have yet to come out on top.
“We love playing on the Hilltop in front of our home crowd and we are working on bring the same energy and intensity to our away matches!” said Patricia Koutsoukos, a sophomore setter from Sydney, Australia. The women’s team is in great shape, playing united and with confidence. Once they can address the issue of bringing that elevated level of play we see at home to their away matches, they will be unstoppable.
Looking ahead, the Dons have established goals to enhance the USF Volleyball program and also to better themselves as a team.
Coach Skayhan said, “Short term, we are looking to make jumps every week as we implement new strategies and techniques.” She continued, “Long term, we are hoping to rebuild and bring USF to the program it is deserving of. We are so well supported from the athletic department and we are excited about the process moving forward!”
Featured Photo: WVB Gather Around Coach LAVRISHA before playing Sac State. DONS ATHLETICS/ TWITTER