By Max Carter – email@example.com – Staff Writer | Sept. 10, 2014 |
After undergoing drastic changes to their squad from the year before, the UNC Asheville women’s volleyball team is putting the pieces back together for the 2014 season.
“We are a younger team,” said Frederico Santos, head coach. “There are fewer returning players and a lot of the players are being asked to step up into positions they did not play the previous year.”
In 2013, the volleyball team finished the season 17-14, but there are few returning players from last season. Eight slots opened up after five seniors graduated, two transferred to other schools and one player quit the team for undisclosed reasons.
This year the team consists of seven freshmen, two sophomores, four juniors and no seniors.
“The biggest battle has been building team chemistry, but they have been improving greatly and are really coming together,” Santos said.
Christine Lakatos, sophomore outside hitter, said the leadership role is one of the more difficult responsibilities for some players to step into.
“The juniors are the ones who need to be stepping up and taking the leadership responsibility. Which can be scary for us but also really exciting,” Lakatos said.
Lakatos also said the communication between players is an aspect the team has been trying to work on.
“As we get to know each other, the game flow gets better because we are learning how each other plays,” Lakatos said. “Ever since the first practice there has been an improvement and everyone is getting along really well.”
Coach Santos said he likes what he’s seen from the team, especially their reaction to being one of the younger teams in the conference.
“They are always ready to improve. They work through both the good and the bad,” Santos said.
Though the team consists of mostly freshmen, Cat Fischer, sophomore rightside hitter, said the team does not want to be viewed as “rebuilding.”
“Since we lost so many players we have been put into this category,” Fischer said, “but we all feel like we can succeed. We have the talent to win and do not want to be known as a rebuilding team.”
Fischer said the team plays the role of the underdog in many game situations.
“We are working on becoming more disciplined so we do not have to start out that way. We have a lot of heart and show it through our work but we also have the ability to start each game on top,” Fischer said.
The team had a slow start to the season, but recently picked up their first win in the Kennesaw State Invitational.
“Our improvement is slow and steady but we believe that we can actually play together and win,” Lakatos said.
Santos said the volleyball team was predicted to finish in sixth place in the Big South conference, so one of their goals is to beat this prediction.
“It is also always a goal to make it to the conference championship,” Santos said. “We need to get the team just right so we can play at our best by tournament time.”
According to Lakatos, this is not out of the question.
“First and foremost our goal is to play well in the conference tournament and to do that we need to continue with what we are doing and keep making steady progress.”
The team has been busy playing in invitationals that require them to travel for each game. So far they have been to Clemson and Kennesaw State, with a trip to the Georgia Invitational on the horizon.
According to Fischer, one of the team’s goals is to go undefeated at home.
“In our locker room is a poster with all of our goals for the season, one of those being to win every home game,” Fischer said. “With our coaching the sky is the limit.”
Fischer said they have an advantage playing at home because of the Justice Center’s layout.
“The fans are so close to the court in the Justice Center, and being that close the fans can really get into the opposing team’s head and distract them,” Fischer said. “We have such great fans, too.”