Mike Volk, a junior defender from Bear, Del., recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the team wrapping up the regular-season schedule. First up is the third-ranked Maryland Terrapins, who visit Klöckner Stadium on Friday (Oct. 29) for a 7 p.m. match vs. the fifth-ranked Cavaliers.
Question: How did you feel about your team's performance at No. 15 Boston College and coming away with a 1-1 double-overtime tie?
Volk: Performance wise, we were definitely happy. Boston College is a tough place to play. We had the whole week for preparation and we played on turf. I would say we weren't pleased or disappointed with the result. When we went in there we didn't want anything less than a win, but we were happy to not lose and to come out with a point in the ACC standings.
Question: This is your second week in a row without a mid-week game. How have you been preparing for weekend ACC matchups?
Volk: Last week and this week have been great because we have had the opportunity to play with some of the reserves and we've had some intense and competitive practices which is great. During the season we don't get a lot of time to practice and play with each other because a lot of the time is recovery. So it's been great to really prepare ourselves for Maryland and the hype that's going to come with that game.
Question: Maryland is a familiar foe from recent post-season appearances, both in ACC and NCAA tournament play - what do they bring to the table?
Volk: They are very similar to last year and last year we were able to get victories against them. They are very good and the Virginia vs. Maryland game is always crazy. Coach [Gelnovatch] reminded us that we knocked them out of the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament last year. They are definitely going to come in hungry, ready for a battle. I feel like we are at a point in our season where we are ready for it. We have our blue-collar mentality back where we are going to grind games out and hopefully get wins.
Question: What goes into the Virginia/Maryland rivalry?
Volk: It's a little bit of everything. They're close, their fan-base very enthusiastic when they come to game. There is a history behind UVa and Maryland and how many times we've played them and it's conference competition. It's the game when you come to Virginia that you want to play in and it's definitely exciting to be a part of it.
Question: Do you feel more cemented in your role this year after last season's success?
Volk: In the beginning of the season I would say that I was more confident in myself and where I stood on the team, but I will be the first one to admit that I wasn't playing too well at the beginning of the season. I really appreciate that the coaches took me aside and gave me the opportunity to watch a game and see how things were without me in the line-up. That really took a toll on me because I didn't want to do that ever again. That really cleared my head up and got me to the point where I play every game like it's my last and use that mentality to finish the season in a positive way.
Question: Last season you and Greg Monaco were the inexperienced players at defense; this season you transitioned to be the experienced ones. How have you and Greg shared your experience with the newer defensive starters Sean Hiller and Sean Murnane?
Volk: They've been great and have adapted to the line-up very well. They give us a better dynamic than we had last year. They get forward a lot, which is great. It relieves the pressure of the other team's strikers just coming at Greg and me. Its great because Greg and I can give them some pointers on what we've experienced last year. I'm very pleased with their performance to this point.
Question: The team is unbeaten in the last five games. Have you started building momentum for the postseason yet?
Volk: There's always room for improvement but I feel like the second half of the Virginia Tech game and the Boston College game, I was very satisfied with our enthusiasm and our intensity. Even though we were down at halftime against Boston College, not one of us had the thought that we were going to lose when we were down. We knew we were going to come back and potentially win the game. We had some opportunities, but weren't able to capitalize. I think we are at that point in our season now where we are moving forward and we are past the rocky, up and down part moving forward to the tournament, which is great.
Question: What's your major? Favorite class?
Volk: My major is sociology and my favorite class right now is Sociology of Emotions because its something I really don't focus on with my personal emotions. It's more of a thing where I just let those go. It's interesting to take a step back and look at how interactions occur.
Question: What can a fan expect at the game Friday against Maryland?
Volk: They are going to get a lot of hype from our fans. It's going to be a very fast-paced, very physical game. They are going to have a blast watching. Expect a lot of excitement - there are going to be goals scored, some big saves. A little bit of everything is going to happen this weekend.