STORRS, Conn. – Excitement is increasing for the University of Connecticut volleyball team, which begins its 2016 campaign on Friday at Syracuse, with first serve scheduled for 5 p.m. (ET).
The Huskies are near the end of the preseason, and after two-and-a-half weeks of practice and conditioning sessions, they are prepared for the first two matches this weekend. UConn plays Colgate on Saturday at 4 p.m. (ET).
As the Huskies look to get off to a good start, following their four-win improvement in 2015, the team has provided preseason blogs to keep UConn fans updated on what practice has been like – and also about how much fun they’ve been having.
‘Sup fellow DOGS! You’re in for some entertainment coming at you from one member of the sophomore class and your three favorite freshman on the UConn volleyball team. We are entering the final week of preseason, which means last week of two-a-day practices!! Woof! Woof! Surviving preseason #squadgoals! With this being the last week of preseason practices, our season is officially starting this Friday, August 28th, against Syracuse University. First serve is at 5 p.m, so try and come out to support your fellow Huskies in New York! It will be a great game to start off the season! Although our first game of non-conference is this Friday, we like to kick things off with our Blue and White Scrimmage! Our scrimmage consisted of two lineups, Blue and White, on different sides of the nets. We play a total of four games with each game switching players in and out of positions, so each team had a different lineup each game. Avery and Genna, two out of our three freshmen, have a different perspective of the Blue and White scrimmage, since it was their first Blue and White scrimmage of the season as freshmen. Here is what they have to say about it!
Avery- “I did not know what to expect going into this scrimmage, I just went into it with an open mind. I went into it anxious and excited to see how everything we have been doing in practice translate into this scrimmage. I was excited to experience what it feels like to play as a Husky with new teammates and coaches. At the end of the scrimmage, I thought we all played hard and made each other better. It was a great scrimmage to get a feel for where we stand as a team and although, the overall scrimmage went really well, there is always improvement and still some to work out all the kinks.”
Genna- “I was very excited to play my very first match in Gampel Pavilion! I was excited to finally put on the Uconn jersey and represent Uconn volleyball for the first time. I thought everybody brought good energy and the overall outcome of the scrimmage really showed our full potential of how good we really can be this season.”
Kayla-”This is my second Blue and White Scrimmage and I can tell you that while playing the atmosphere felt different. The level of play as a team has greatly improved and the connection on the court was unbelievable compared to last year. The potential on this team is amazing and if we continue to push each other and hold each other to high standards than there is nothing that we can’t accomplish. We have grown as a team and just because we have improved greatly compared to last year does not mean that we are content, we need to continue to raise our expectations.”
Preseason was full of volleyball but that’s not the only thing that the Huskies focused on this summer! Volleyball is not only about technique but it’s about connection on the court. Our team spent our Saturday, August 29th, at Ellen’s house for a cookout. Teams were made and the games were scheduled to begin right after the conclusion of the Blue and White scrimmage. The coaches took us shopping and we had to prepare to be master chefs the following day. Team Ellen and Team Kris went head-to-head in what we would like to call UConnCook. The challenge was to make an appetizer, an entree and a vegetable. Team Ellen made the bomb.com buffalo chicken dip along with spicy chicken tacos and to top it all off we added cauliflower and broccoli topped off with parmesan. Team Kris, who had a Mexican style theme, started its meal off with salsa and chips followed by chicken and steak tacos and stuffed peppers with yellow rice. This suddenly became a battle of the tacos. There were three judges, our three lovely assistant coaches, Ellen, Robbie and Matt. While the UConn chefs grabbed their plates, the judges took their time to come to a consensus on the winning squad. When we were all brought together the judges added suspense and went over the winning food in each category. First came the tacos; the spicy chicken tacos won over the steak and chicken tacos. That means the score is Team Ellen: 1, Team Kris: 0. The next category was the vegetable showdown: Team Kris’ stuffed pepper versus the cauliflower and broccoli of Team Ellen. Ellen announced the winner was stuffed pepper and that evened out the score. With the scores close it all came down to one final dish… our appetizers. One of these dishes will help a team win it all. Either the buffalo chicken dip or the salsa, which will it be? The winner was read by the one and only Miss Ella, daughter of Ellen and Amanda Kimball. The winner turned out to be Team Kris! The salsa was enough to take home the first ever championship! Woof, Woof!
On Monday, August 22nd, the team took a 45 minute road trip to Avon High School for an open practice so the Avon girls’ volleyball team could watch us practice. As soon as we walked into the gym, there was music blasting out of the speakers in the gym with a big sign that said, ”AVON HIGH SCHOOL WELCOMES UCONN VOLLEYBALL.” The high school players, coaches, and parents were all sitting on the bleachers waiting for us to practice and so immediately we all felt very welcomed stepping into the gym. During this practice, we started off with our arm warm up, where we hit under the net to our partners and our partners have to work on moving their feet to get them ready to pass. Once we are warmed up, we play trips, which is a game where three people are on both sides of the court and also a setter on each side. Trips is a great way to start practice off because it’s intense and gets everyone moving and communicating. After we played three games of trips, we broke up into different groups to work on skills that pertained to our positions. Then, we finished off with a game called bounce, which is drill that is very chaotic and is a good drill to work on controlling the chaos which is something that happens in the game. We concluded practice a little early that day because we wanted the players, coaches, and parents of Avon to be able to hear our head coach, Kris, talk a little bit and to answer any questions they had. Once the talking and questions were done, we all sat in a line and signed posters for anyone who wanted them, which was really fun because we had the chance to interact with the high schoolers up close and personal. Everyone from Avon was so nice and really seemed to enjoy watching us practice. The people working the concession stand outside the gym were giving us water, Gatorade, and pizza after our practice, which was so generous of them! It was a really cool experience to practice at a high school in front of a group of people because these high schoolers got to see behind the scenes of what a college volleyball practice was like and it gives them an opportunity to see if they want to play at the next level or not! Also, it’s nice to practice at other facilities, besides the beautiful Gampel Pavilion, because we have to get used to being and playing in other gyms!
It has been a busy couple of days, but we are surviving and getting ready for our season opener this Friday against Syracuse! We are doing all we can do to prepare for this upcoming season and it is going to be a fun one, so stay tuned and follow along this season! You can do this by visiting uconnhuskies.com and searching for volleyball or you can follow us on social media! Our Instagram is UConnVBall and our Twitter is @UConnVB. Go Huskies!!!!!
From yours truly,
Lizzie, Kayla, Avery, and Genna :)