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The CU women’s volleyball seniors say they are ready for a fresh start this season.
With the addition of a new assistant coach as well as a group of five freshmen players, many seniors on the team say they are encouraged by the Buffs’ progress in the preseason.
“We have all been working very hard to push each other to becoming mentally and physically stronger players, and I think all the hard work is definitely paying off,” senior middle blocker Lauren Schaefer said in a recent blog entry on CUBuffs.com.
After going 6-22 overall and 1-19 in conference play last season, the team was recently picked to finish seventh in the 2008 Big 12 Preseason Poll, as determined by the conference.
The Buffs received 38 points in the poll, putting them one point ahead of both Baylor and Oklahoma, who tied for eighth with 37 points.
The team had difficulty finishing matches that extended into a fifth game last season, losing eight of their conference matches 2-3. However, the team is working on strategies to prevent them from losing steam and confidence in those five-game matches.
“Our strength coach, James, has also been pushing us very hard in the weight room and leads us in agility and conditioning workouts in the gym that I think have really helped build our overall stamina,” Schaefer said on the team blog.
Head coach Pi’i Aiu has also brought in Stevie Mussie, a former outside hitter for both the University of Washington and University of the Pacific, to fill in as the new assistant coach for the team. She replaced former assistant coach Erik Sullivan, who left CU in February.
“We are excited to have Stevie join the staff,” Aiu said in an athletic department press release. “She brings ideas and a philosophy from a school that has been on the cutting edge of training and has been very successful in the last five or six years.”
Senior right side hitter Alex Buth said Mussie has been a valuable addition to the team in the preseason, and has pushed them to learn new things.
“Stevie, our new assistant coach this year, has come in and taught us so many new skills and techniques that most of us have never seen before,” Buth said on the team blog. “It gets very frustrating at times, but I know in the long run we each are going to be so much better.”
Buth also said she was impressed by the motivation of the five freshmen players on the team- Megan Cyr, Devon Dykstra, Melanie Naber, Alex Penewell and Becah Fogle.
“We have five new freshmen who have really come in the gym and worked hard from day one,” Buth said on the team blog. “I am very excited to see what they can bring to the team right away; their fresh attitude and mindset is what we need!”
Senior outside hitter Amber Sutherland said the team will have increased strength and depth this season at every position.
“We have a lot of great players on this year’s team and unlike previous seasons, the depth in each position forces everyone to keep working hard day in and day out,” Sutherland said on the team blog. “We are a very talented team with a lot of heart, dedication, and commitment.”
In addition to practices and workouts, the players are focused on their academic goals this semester. The team was able to achieve close to a 4.0 GPA during the summer semester, and Sutherland said they have set a goal of a 3.0 team GPA for the fall.
Buth said the team wants to live up to its full potential this year, especially on the court.
“I think that our commitment this season has already shown, and we are all definitely willing to make huge sacrifices to become a top Big 12 contender this year,” she said on the team blog.
The Buffs open their season this Friday against Troy at the Mississippi State Classic.