Volleyball Preseason Blog

Aug. 11, 2013

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The 2013 Virginia volleyball team has started preseason training and our student-athletes will be providing insight each day. The Cavaliers open the season Aug. 30-31 with the Jefferson Cup at Memorial Gymnasium.


Tuesday, August 27 - Freshman Jasmine Burton

Through the sweat, soreness, and fatigue, preseason has taught me how to be mentally tough. Coming into college as a first year, we had set techniques and tendencies that we have been doing our whole life. Changing the techniques was frustrating because sometimes you feel like you are never going to get it right. Through this, we learned patience. We learned that these tendencies are not going to change overnight and that in order to perfect your craft, you have to work at it everyday. You have to make a conscious decision to work at getting better everyday. 

For me, preseason and college volleyball was a huge wake up call. I have probably worked harder in these last two weeks than I have in my entire life. I learned that working hard doesn’t mean giving effort in just game situations, but putting forth effort in every situation. I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone as a hitter, and learn how to pass, play defense, and set in case the setter digs. After the scrimmage, Coach Dennis Hohenshelt looked at the team and told us that we played good, but he didn’t end the statement with that. He told us that we cannot strive for good, we need to strive for greatness. This stood out to me because I think that this statement truly summarized our preseason. We put in extra hours and came in early so that we can be better. We don’t want to finish the season thinking that we could’ve done better, or thinking that we could have won more than three games, but we want to finish saying that we gave it our all.  


Monday, August 26 - Junior Morgan Blair

Coach Dennis Hohenshelt gave us the day off today to rest and prepare for classes which start tomorrow. We each had individual meetings with Coach to discuss our progress in preseason and where he felt we stood up to this point. The first years also had orientation meetings throughout the day and the rest of us prepared for class by reading through syllabi and gathering required texts for the semester. I have a difficult schedule ahead of me this semester, but my classes all seem very interesting. I'm excited to get back to work both in the classroom and the gym! 

Preseason has officially ended and with that the team is now busy preparing for our upcoming home tournament against Marshall, James Madison, and Montana. Although preseason felt long, I can't believe the official start to our season is this Friday. We've worked so hard the past two weeks in preparation for the beginning of the season and I'm anxious to see it all pay off. This doesn't mean the work is over, however, as each of our weeks leading up to games will be spent preparing for specific opponents- starting tomorrow! I can't wait for our home opener on Friday night against Marshall and I hope to see a big crowd at Mem Gym! Wahoowa!!


Sunday, August 25 - Junior Tori Janowski

After another successful Orange and Blue Scrimmage and the final day of preseason, the coaches decided to give us a well-deserved day off. Being the first full day off we have had throughout the whole preseason, today was all about rest and relaxation. I was able to sleep as long as I could and had the joy of not setting an alarm the night before. After waking up refreshed, I people watched on the downtown mall while enjoying a lazy brunch. Then I made my way over to the training room in UHall to do some rehab with Erika, our trainer. A little bit of treatment goes a long way!

With classes starting on Tuesday, it's time to start preparing for the school year and getting ready for our season to begin. I am excited to prepare for our first home game against Marshall this coming Friday (7 p.m. at Mem Gym). I think we are all itching to begin competing!

Tune in tomorrow for another inside scoop on your Virginia volleyball team!!


Saturday, August 24 - Sophomore Kayla Sears

Preseason is winding down and I am so excited about how much we have improved over the past two weeks! Today we started the morning off with a trip to the farmer's market downtown. We handed out flyers for our Orange and Blue Scrimmage to the locals walking around to help get a crowd for our first match. Once we finished that, we headed back to Mem Gym for a quick serve and pass to get prepared for the match.

We also hosted a youth clinic to get more of the younger kids in the community involved with UVa volleyball. It was a lot of fun to work with them and see how excited they were to learn about volleyball. The coaches did a great job promoting the clinic by the amount of people that showed up! Following the clinic the team sat down and signed our new team posters for each of the kids. The scrimmage was a lot of fun to play in front of a crowd. The blue team took the win over the white, but both sides battled each game. Overall, I thought the match was a success and we did a lot of good things! I'm very excited for this season and what else our team has to offer!


Friday, August 23 - Sophomore Vivian Burcescu

The bleachers are out and Mem Gym is set up and ready for the Orange and Blue Scrimmage. Instead of the usual three nets, there is one net set up in the center of the gym. Everyone has been working hard improving individual skills necessary for team success. Today, we focused on team oriented drills and it was great to see how well everything is coming together. Everyone played really hard and the effort paid off. Everyday we get better and closer to our team goals.

After two practices, the rain did not stop us from going to the Downtown Mall to promote the Orange and Blue Scrimmage (scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.). I'm excited to finally show people what we've been working so hard to accomplish. We're hoping for a good turnout this year!

Dinner tonight was at the "Hohenshelt Estate" where Mrs. Hohenshelt cooked us a lovely dinner to celebrate two weeks of hard work. Preseason may be almost over, but the season has only just begun and we have a lot to prove this year!


Thursday, August 22 - Sophomore Natalie Bausback

It was a beautiful day in Cville today with the sun shinning and streets starting to fill with students eager for the new school year to start. Preseason is slowly coming to an end which means our first tournament is just a week away! Coming back from injury I was not able to participate that much in preseason this year, but being able to watch from the outside looking in was interesting and allowed me to see the game from a different perspective. The team has worked extremely hard everyday, getting better every time they step out on the court. The energy and competitiveness that is in the gym during practice is exciting and everybody has grown as a player from the first day we started preseason. Most times it takes awhile for teams to click, but I felt that this team clicked right away. We have great team chemistry already and will only improve as the season goes on. 

Today we started out the morning with a nice lift at UHall at 10 a.m. It wasn't a hard lift, but something to get our blood flowing and build just a little more muscle. Practice started at 2 p.m. but everybody went up 30 mins early to get extra reps before we started our real practice. We always start out with some stretching and band work for our shoulders. Then we went into ladder work to get our blood flowing in our legs. Today we focused a lot on position work for the first two hours or so with some serve receive, position blocking, and middle hitting. Outsides then worked on hitting different sets while defenders tried to dig the hits on an open net. We then ended with some game like drills that allowed us to put everything together that we were working on today. Coach (Dennis) Hohenshelt always reminds us that we will not be perfect everyday, but when we aren't perfect we have to work even harder to get through the drills we are trying to accomplish. We finished off the night with an amazing BBQ dinner at JPJ and a nice, relaxing team ice bath. I am so excited for this season and can't wait for the road ahead because it is going to be a good one. Go Hoos! 


Wednesday, August 21 - Junior Abbey Welborn

Today was a very productive day of practice. We were given the morning off to rest up and rehab so we could have two solid practices. In the first practice, we worked on ball control to start. Next we broke out by position to do isolation drills and specialized technique training. My personal favorite was the serve receive passing drill Coach (Stevie) Mussie had us do. We broke out into two groups (one serves the other passes) and we were given 50 balls. Of the total we needed to pass 50% perfect. It's a tough, but really fun drill.

In the second session we played a lot of six on six drills. We worked on our high out-of-system balls, both defending them and attacking. We did drills similar to this for a while and it was a lot of fun because everyone was giving there all which created a lively and competitive environment. We ended the night with a quick game to 15 and the score was really close, 15-13. Overall, I thought we had a very productive day of practice. Great day to be a Hoo!


Tuesday, August 20 - Sophomore Manon Greskovics-Fuller

After a tough practice the previous night, the team was able to sleep in and was back in the gym at 10 am for a short, but technical practice. Outside and right side hitters were grouped into a blocking drill with assistant coach Aaron Smith, middle blockers worked on different approaches with (volunteer) assistant coach Peter Green, and the defensive specialists worked with assistant coach Stevie Mussie on serve receive passing. At the end of the session, we had a quick group stretch and headed over the McCue Center for our second lift of the week with Bill Miller, our strength and conditioning coach.

Second session was all about competition and preparing for our annual Blue and Orange scrimmage this coming Saturday (at 6 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium). Coach Dennis Hohenshelt spent the majority of practice testing out different lineups to figure out who fit best where. Although we are more than half-way through pre season with several tired bodies and a few injuries, we took on the competition and played a solid days worth of volleyball.

The team has come a far way from last year both physically and mentally and we all cannot wait to see what our hard work and effort will bring us in the future. 


Monday, August 19 - Freshman Karlie Suber

Today was move in day for us first-years.  As we transitioned from our cozy hotel rooms to our dorms, we had the morning off while the upper classmen aided us in our move.  

After a day off yesterday and the morning off today, our legs were well rested and ready to work this afternoon.  We started off with a competitive five-on-five drill that involved one on one blocking. This drill really highlighted two things that we've been focusing on: blocking and defending a seem or one man block. As in most of our drills, the winning side stays on, so it made each side want to win and created a very competitive atmosphere in the gym. The competitive atmosphere continued on throughout the day, which I think really helps our team grow and improve. 

After our dinner at JPJ, we returned to the gym for another three hour session that was just as competitive as the first. We started with serving and a few live passing drills and moved into rotation drills. In order to complete the last drill, the designated side had to successfully score 60% of five balls served at them, six times in a row, while the other side worked to assure that 60% of the five balls were unsuccessful. In the end, both sides were hard working, and I think that we made some great progress and learned a lot about our game in that drill alone.

We are continuing to work on our weaknesses and strengths as we head into the end of our preseason.  The progress we've made thus far is only the start. As a team we are coming together and working hard and pushing each other past our limits to ensure a better season than last. We're getting better every day, and I'm excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.


Sunday, August 18 - Junior Mallory Woolridge

Well it is safe to say that we are in the home stretch of preseason and on our way to the beginning of a great season of competition. Throughout the first week of practice we have really come together as a team and improved greatly especially in comparison to last year. It is extremely exciting to see how far we have come as a group in just one week of play together. We are leaps and bounds better than we were last year.

Moving into the second week of preseason we will be preparing for the blue and orange scrimmage that will take place on Saturday (Aug. 24) at 6 p.m. Today the coaches gave us a day off from practice in order to make sure that were are ready to grind this last week of preseason and get better at some things before we start play. We had a team film session today in order to see what exactly we needed to work on individually and as a team. It was extremely beneficial because a lot of times you don’t realize what you are doing wrong until you see it for yourself. To say the least I could not be more excited and ready to see what this year has in store for us and what we are going to achieve as a team! 


Saturday, August 17 - Sophomore Amanda Barnes

Officially a week into preseason! It’s amazing to see how far we have come in seven days.  I feel like the team has done a great job really utilizing the time we have in the gym and getting the most out of every practice that we’ve had so far. Today for our morning practice we had a quick hour and a half serve and pass. The coaches have been really focusing on passing, so even though these sessions are shorter than regular practices they are just as (if not more) important.  Along with working on passing, the coaches thought it would be a good time to really focus on stretching and working out our tight muscles. 

Having two a days and three a days for a week, really start to have a toll on our muscles. I went into that session thinking that I was somewhat flexible; however after the stretching and yoga that we did I have now concluded that “flexible” is definitely not a word I would use to describe myself. After our serve and pass we had another afternoon practice, which we worked on blocking, serve receive and out of system plays. Then to finish the practice we played two 25-point games and one 15-point game. It was really fun playing competitively against each other because our whole team works really hard and gives everything they have to each play. Playing with as much determination as we have been recently makes playing so much more fun and beneficial. I can't wait to see what the second half of our preseason has in store!


Friday, August 16 - Freshman Lexi Riccolo

We started the morning off with an early practice at 8 a.m. Practice began with our usual warm up, blocking and defensive movements. We continued practice with some serve and pass butterfly movement followed by some 5 vs. 6. Although we had a rough ending to this practice we were all ready to get back in the gym for our afternoon session and work hard. 

After our morning practice we were all able to get our heads back in the game and crank out two more good sessions. We had a quick lunch and short nap and we were back in the gym from 1-4. We worked on a lot of serving. We did a lot of drills where we kept score of serves we made and miss. This allowed us to see what areas of our serving needed work.

Before our night session we headed over to JPJ for a delicious team dinner. we headed into our third session of the day at 7. We worked a lot on competition drills with some 6 vs. 6. Coach matched up our hitters to face each other and we worked on defensive positioning and blocking. This drill is one of my favorites because it allows almost everyone on the court at the same time so everyone is improving together. We had some good communication and some awesome plays!

I was so happy to see the team overcome a rough morning to have a great two sessions. It is good to see we have a team that can overcome hardship together. Although we have several players not feeling 100% right now, practices are getting better everyday and I can't wait to compete in the fall! GO HOOS! 


Thursday, August 15 - Junior Sydney Shelton

We started off day six at 8 a.m. and had a solid three-and-a-half hour practice. Practice began with a few floor moves to get warm, on our towels of course. We then played cooperative 6 vs. 6, with everyone rotating to play in every position. I feel like we have really stepped up this drill from last season.  It definitely helps to have 18 players to rotate in and out. We continued with a hitter vs. full court defense drill. This really gave us a chance to break down the game and work on good blocking moves.

During this session we did a few serving drills and got quality reps. The majority of practice was spent doing a hitter vs. hitter drill. Two hitters would be matched up against each other and they were the only two who could score points. I love playing defense in this drill because it is very intense and competitive. We finished off practice with a game to 25. We put in a solid three hours of hard work this morning and got a lot accomplished. During long practices like this we are working on being as mentally focused at the end of practice as we were in the beginning.

After a lunch break we had a serve and pass practice from 2:00- 3:30. We got more serving reps practicing hitting specific zones. Passers got reps with servers hitting on boxes. The middle and right side hitters also practiced passing short balls. Overall, today was competitive and productive. To finish off the day we had a lift with (strength and conditioning coach) Bill Miller. Shout out to the first years who experienced the glute-ham raise exercise today. This takes a while to get used to and it is always funny watching the first couple of attempts! After lift we hit JPJ for dinner. Our night session was cancelled so we could “get some legs back,” and go hard with three practices tomorrow. I can see everyone working hard and giving maximum effort on every drill, every play, and every touch. I can’t wait to keep improving! 


Wednesday, August 14 - Freshman Haley Kole

We started day five with the morning session off, which we were all really excited about. We had a hard three-hour session of competitive play the night before, where we all really worked up a sweat. We all played really hard and we got a lot out of our night session. We were on our own for breakfast and lunch. Once we came in for our afternoon session, we were all refreshed and ready to play again. During the session, we focused on serving positions and defense. We focused on serving deep zones, sidelines, and short serves from different positions on the service line. After that, we practiced serve receive. Our serve receive today wasn't strong at all, so we were all disappointed in our numbers there. We are ready to focus on coming in tomorrow and really stepping up our serve receive.  

After that, Coach (Dennis) Hohenshelt went over our schedule for the next day, and we were all pleasantly surprised again. He told us that we would have the night session off as well. This came as a shock to all of us, mainly because we were unhappy with our serve receive numbers. We were given the night off to rest our legs and bodies so that we could come back the next couple days and really compete like we had the night before. We all really enjoyed getting to play competitively and we are looking forward to it again. Our dinner at JPJ that night was superb as always. We had mac n cheese, BBQ chicken, salmon patties, steamed vegetables and salad. The food at JPJ is always good and its something we definitely look forward to as a team.

Preseason is definitely tough and takes a toll on your body, but it is all worth it. We get better every time we come in to the gym, and you can see it in our competitive play. We all really enjoy the tough atmosphere and pressure that is put on us. I have really enjoyed getting to spend more time with all of the upper classmen, and getting to know them better. We are really excited about our upcoming season and it shows in the hard work that we put in during practice. I love all the direction and comments I get from the coaches. There is always some part of your game or technique that could be better, and having them there to remind you is always a great tool. We are all sore and tired, but we push through because we all want to come in to this next season strong. We are all excited to compete in the ACC, and we are look forward to competing against other teams every day.

Tuesday, August 13 - Sophomore Lauren Fuller

Team picture day today! To start off our fourth day of preseason we were scheduled a time to take our team picture. Sitting, standing, smiling and serious; we tried many different poses until our photographer (Matt Riley) was happy with our picture. After we finished our team picture session, we all packed into four cars and went to lift with (strength and conditioning coach) Bill Miller. Although our bodies are still trying to get used to the three-a-days, we were able to get in a nice, quick lift. After the lift, half of our team decided to take a ice bath, while the other team decided to head back to the lockeroom to get ready for our afternoon session.

For the afternoon session, Coach (Dennis) Hohenshelt split the two-hour practice into positional work. As a setter I worked on really connecting with the hitters and working to become more in-sync. For the evening session, we finally progressed to doing six-on-six competition play. The team did a great job playing hard for every point and really working to compete to earn a spot on the court. I think that the best thing about today was that everyone became a lot more comfortable playing next to each other. I am very excited to see how much better we can get in the last 10 days of preseason! 


Monday, August 12 - Freshman Alex Thorson

Today was our third day of training, with soreness at an all-time high. We started off the day bright and early at 8 a.m. with Kelly Rossi, our nutritionist, giving us a few tips on staying healthy and eating properly. We then went into some defensive drills and pounded out a two and a half hour practice. I feel like the first years are getting the hang of things more and everyone is a great help with any questions we have. The upperclassman are all super nice and understand what we are going through. We all have bumps and bruises and work together to get through them.

After an icebath at UHall, we had some blocking and defense then a serve and pass, with higher stats! After a little dinner mixup, we were back in the gym FRESH and STRONG for our evening session. We were going balls out for this session and did a lot more defense and blocking, honing our skills to the best we can be and getting better hour-by-hour. Some scrimmaging drills to finish off and day three is done and everyone showered and ready for pictures tomorrow. Can't wait for day four! Go Hoos! 


Sunday, August 11 - Freshman Meghan McDowell

A tough first day of three practice sessions to begin the preseason experience was definitely an eye opener for us first years. The soreness and cramps left us crawling into the gym this morning for our practice, but we were nonetheless excited to play and get better. We started off the morning light, working mostly on ball control, passing and individual position training. Right after our morning practice we headed over to McCue (Center) for our first official lift of the season with the (strength and conditioning coach) famous Wild Bill (Miller). Squatting was a struggle after spending so much time in a defensive position the day before but we got some good work in and then had a chance to rest up for our evening session. For our last session of the day we spent a lot of time doing component drills with the hitters and setters working together and blockers working against the hitters. It was nice to put the technical training we did in the morning to use in the evening and progress into more game-like situations. 

College volleyball has definitely been an adjustment so far. Everything about the college game is much faster than what I was used to in high school and everyone is much more athletic and physical. It'll take some getting used to but it's so much fun playing high-level volleyball and training every day with players who are so skilled and want to get better and make the team better.  Go Hoos!


Saturday, August 10 - Senior Emily Rottman

Head Coach Dennis Hohenshelt and the Cavalier squad on the first day of practice.

The day has finally arrived! The 2013 UVa volleyball preseason is underway and we are all excited to begin what should be a very intense (but rewarding) two weeks. Preseason jitters were definitely upon us all this morning, but once we got started, there was no looking back. After a hearty breakfast provided for us at Mem (Memorial Gymnasium), all 18 of us walked up into the gym decked out in our brand new Nike attire and Coach (Dennis) Hohenshelt in his neon orange shorts that he thinks are the greatest thing since sliced bread. For me, this walk up the stairs to Mem was a little different this time around, knowing that this is the FIRST day of my LAST preseason ever. It is a discomforting thought, but it only means that it will have to be the best one yet!

After a morning of testing we went right into defensive stances and some movement drills. We later focused on ball control and shuffling as well as some fun 4 v 4 games. At our last session today we dug a lot of balls and worked on getting low when playing defense. At the end we got to play some 6 v 6, which was nice because we got to see where we are at as a group. Overall, today was a success and we definitely have a competitive spirit in our gym. The first years are an impressive group and are only going to get better everyday.

We are all exhausted from a long day of hard work, but we know that the aches and bruises in the next two weeks will pay off in the end! I wish I could say that being a fourth year means that preseason soreness no longer occurs, but this is 100% not true. This was quickly disproved when I waddled/crawled up the three flights of stairs to my apartment tonight. I guess I’ll just think of the soreness as a constant reminder to how hard we are working every practice. Despite the three-a-days, constant fatigue, and pain that is unavoidable, preseason also has its moments that are simply irreplaceable. There is something about the late night frozen yogurt outings, ice bath snuggle sessions, and locker room dance parties that make it all worth it and harder to call it my last. Although today was just day one, I can already say that the future looks bright for UVa volleyball (yes, even brighter than Coach Hohenshelt’s shorts). Go Hoos!