By MICHELLE SPEAKER
The University of Tampa volleyball team traveled to Indianapolis for a tournament on Sept. 10, where they won all three matches.
The past weekend was a great opportunity for the team to learn how to play together again, according to head coach Chris Catanach. “Although the games were not against ranked opponents, they were against solid teams that made us get better.”
While in Indianapolis, the volleyball team developed some personality and improved collectively as a unit. With 17 players on the team, 12 are returning from last year with just one starter. In the starting lineup this season there are, at times, four freshmen, a sophomore, and a senior. The Indianapolis trip gave the team a chance to bond and find chemistry within, something that Catanach looked forward to.
“The team dynamic is great, even though we’re young we had a lot of people that came in new,” said senior outside hitter Allee Stelogeannis. “We did a lot of team bonding early in the season and that helped us grow. We have a fun team dynamic where even though we hold each other accountable, it’s as though we’re all learning at the same time.”
During the second set versus Ashland there were a few errors. “We lost the mindset, we work a lot on being tactical in practice which means being tactical with the ball to make a good play out of it,” Stelogeannis said. “Once we regained our focus a little bit we became more tactical again, which went uphill from there.”
Stelogeannis thinks because the team is young this year, they are still growing. Freshman setter Sammy Mueller agrees, and notes the team is still getting used to each other and playing better as a unit.
The UT women managed to make a run to come back in the second set against Ashland University when it was 23-18 to tie up the score, but unfortunately a few more mistakes were made. Ashland University won the second set with a score of 25-23. Catanach made an adjustment after this set to change the players around, a move that won the team the next two sets.
Continuing to work harder and improve individually and as a team seems to be a shared goal of the players.
“Being a freshman, I want to be able to show the seniors and all the upperclassmen that I can show up like they can,” Mueller said. “Just keep competing to their level so they can always count on me, it’s not like I’m just another freshman that’s coming in.”
The goal for each season is always the same — winning the Sunshine State Conference title. This season, UT hopes to be a competitive contender in hosting the NCAA Regionals. Catanach believes that it will be a bit more difficult with only returning one starter, the libero, from last years’ team. Although it does make this season a little different, Catanach thinks they could succeed by mid-to-late season to have a shot at accomplishing some of those goals.
It goes without saying, this young team values the art of respect, and know without it they will not be able to achieve their full potential. As Catanach recapped the Indianapolis trip, he said, “They’re a bunch of great, great kids and we had a lot of fun together, so I’m really excited about that part of our team.”
Michelle Speaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org