By ANA BRACIALLI
The UT volleyball team has been representing their strong program once again this season. Last Monday, Oct. 17, the girls moved up two spots to No. 20 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II poll. After a 3-0 weekend at the South Region Crossover in Orlando, UT defeated Christian Brothers University, Shorter University, and Union University without losing a set.
Leigh Buttner, a senior outside hitter for the volleyball team, says that nobody was expecting for their ranking since they try not to focus on the number so much.
“In the end, the only thing that matters is how we are placed,” Buttner said.
Head coach Coach Catanach said that being nationally ranked is always a goal for the team.
“Our team is hanging on to the national ranking. It says a lot about our history that the ranking committee considers us worthy,” Catanach said.
The volleyball team has already won the National Championship twice in 2006 and 2014 and have been winning the Sunshine State Conference Championship since 2005. Catanach says that their goal for the rest of the season is to compete for the SSC Championship and earn an NCAA award.
“I feel very thankful to be a part of such a successful team the past four years,” Buttner said. “It has been a privilege to work with some of the best coaches and teammates in the nation. I think being a part of a successful team is not something anyone should take for granted”.
The team has been ranked for 277 consecutive polling weeks since the 1995 season. With all the success of the team, Catanach couldn’t be more proud of the Spartans.
“We have a hard-working group that is very coachable. There is not a lot of ego issues and they always want to please the staff. I really like coaching them,” Catanach said.
Although there is still regular season games remaining, the volleyball team is already thinking about the post-season. Catanach says that if they can improve their serving receiving and their offense, he believes they will have a great shot at being competitive in the postseason.
Leigh Buttner states that the team’s mentality for this season was to become a team with the most hustle.
“Compared to previous years our team is not as experienced in age, however, we have created a mentality that we would out-hustle many teams if we train that way,” Buttner said.
However, sports is not all about winning. The passion for the sport while they practice and play the game together is something very clear for anybody that watches them.
“This team is special to me because we have a lot of young players who are developing into better players each day. I think this team has grown every day since the first day we started playing with each other, which shows how our hard work pays off,” Buttner said.
The team will be playing their next three games at home against Nova Southeastern University (Oct. 21), Palm Beach Atlantic University (Oct. 22) and Eckerd College (Oct 25).
Ana Braccialli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org