During the course of the spring semester, members of the Virginia volleyball program will check in with VirginiaSports.com about how spring practice is going, what they are up to this semester and more.
May 16, 2013 - Rising junior defensive specialist Sydney Shelton
The end is near with the sports banquet, finals, and then going home. On May 1, UVa Athletics celebrated the end of the year with an all-sports banquet. It is always great to see all the athletes and coaches in one location all dressed up. The night was really nice and well organized. Check out this cool all-sports video that was shown at the banquet. Morgan Blair received the Volleyball Coaches’ Award for Excellence. Great job Morgan, we are very proud of you! Morgan’s reaction was priceless as she did not expect the award. Finals period took place from May 2-10. This is always a very stressful time and I think I speak for everyone, we are happy we survived! Another year under our belts.
I could not be more excited to go back to California and spend some time with my family and friends. I am looking forward to some rest and quality family time. After a short recovery period, we will begin our summer lifting and work out program. Although its summer, the training continues! Hopefully while I am home I will get a little gym time with my sister’s club volleyball team. Most of the UVa team will be back in Charlottesville for June taking summer class and training. In July, the whole team will be working the V-sabre Volleyball Camps. I know summer is going to fly by and we will be in preseason soon enough, getting ready for an exciting 2013 season. Have a great summer! Go Hoos!
April 24, 2013 - Rising senior defensive specialist Emily Rottman
After three long months of training, our 2013 spring season has officially come to a close. I can confidently say that each and every one of us has grown so much individually and all the early morning practices and intense lifts really paid off. Even though many of us are having difficulties fitting our newly muscular arms into some of our shirts, I think we all agree that every pull up and power clean was definitely worth it. This has been the most demanding off-season I have ever been through and it was not easy waking up early every morning, but it definitely taught us to push through even when times are tough.
The best part of spring is being able to see how we are improving as a team by playing in scrimmages. Two weekends ago, we had a home tournament and got to play some solid competition, which is always fun to do. It was nice being back in Mem Gym and it was good to see some of our devoted fans come out and support us. We even had a celebrity sighting of our newest fans, soon-to-be alumni Jessica O’Shoney and Tobi Farrar. We finished the day off strong, playing our best volleyball yet against West Virginia to end the day. Our offense is getting faster, our block is getting stronger (see for yourself here) and our back row is digging a lot of balls, so we were happy about that. This past weekend, we wrapped up with some games against James Madison at their gym. Overall, it was a successful day and we were happy to end on a high note with a win!
This summer has big things in store for us. Many of us will be in Charlottesville most of the time so we have the opportunity to continue to do our workouts and get in the gym. It will also be good to get conditioned to being in Mem Gym in the summer so we won’t die during preseason. We also look forward to working camps and taking summer school classes. I know Morgan Blair and I could not be more excited for our Ethics and Statecraft seminar we are taking third session! It is weird to think that the next time we officially practice as a team it will be preseason, but that just means it will be even closer to the start of our 2013 season! It’s going to be my last, so I guarantee you it’s going to be the best one yet! Go Hoos!
April 10, 2013 - Rising sophomore defensive specialist Amanda Barnes
And the grind continues. This week we continued our 7 a.m. practices as well as lifting weights three times a week. As Tori said in the last blog, we all kept hoping that waking up that early would get easier and our bodies would get acclimated to the lack of sleep. I think its safe to say they haven’t yet, but it is getting easier (rr at least that’s just what I’m tricking myself to believe in order to get through it, haha). Unlike many of the previous weeks in the spring, where breaking down individual skills was the focus, this week we played a lot of game-like scenarios. With our first tournament in just a few days, most of the time in practice was spent working on rotations. After not playing in game-like scenarios for so long (four months to be exact), it was a bit of a struggle to get back in swing of things, literally.
As the week progressed you could definitely see the comfort level and chemistry between the team begin to increase. Passers felt more comfortable with the players playing next to them, the setter-hitter rhythm was better and everything just seemed to flow a lot better. Finally, the gears of the game were starting to go a lot smoother.
As if finally being able to play and compete against teams wasn’t fun enough, the tournament we had was in Virginia Beach, (AKA my hometown!!!). I was so excited to be back in a familiar place again. Although I wasn’t able to actually go to my house, it was nice being back in a place where I knew where everything was again. As far as the tournament went, I think we did really well! I definitely think there is room for improvements, however, I honestly believe we did more good things than bad. I am excited to host our next scrimmage here at UVa this weekend, and excited to see what else the spring has it offer!
April 3, 2013 - Rising junior setter/outside hitter Tori Janowski
After a relaxing Spring Break (can you say Jamaica?), we all hit the ground running into our 20-hour weeks with 7 a.m. practices. I keep telling myself that the more I wake up at 6 a.m., the easier it will get. So far, it has actually gotten harder.
Our increase in hours a week that we can have coaches at practice means that we can begin using the individual skills we learned in the first part of Spring, and collaborate as a team! Don’t get me wrong – individual work is a huge part of being successful, but it’s not always the most exciting thing. Having more time in the gym as a team means that you get to actually play volleyball! Games like queen of the court, triples, doubles and cross court pepper are when practice gets really fun. Everyone gets their competitive juices flowing and we are all remember why we love to play this sport, because it is a definite possibility that I was questioning why I play this sport during my thousandth blocking move.
The second part of spring also means Spring tournaments! As soon as you start to miss club volleyball and playing three matches back-to-back, you are thrown right back into it with your college squad—minus your seniors and plus a few injuries. Spring tournaments are a great way to gauge how hard your team has been working and its also fun to play other teams again. Our first tournament is in Virginia Beach in the first weekend of April and we are all super excited to compete against the other nine teams that will be there. Hope they all bring their A-games because we most definitely will be!
March 4, 2013 - Rising sophomore middle/outside hitter Vivian Burcescu
Going into the spring season, I had no idea what to expect; all I knew was that I would do whatever it took to get better for the fall. Being a part of such a hard-working group of girls dedicated to winning has made my first-year experience at UVa a great one. There are so many people here working to keep the athletes happy, healthy and successful. Workouts are challenging, but nothing that is worth having ever comes easy. One thing I learned is how much further you can go even once you feel like you can’t. Volleyball is such a mental game, so we are not only preparing physically, but mentally as well. Before spring break, we only have two hours of coached volleyball a week. Although this is not very much, we are taking complete advantage of it and I can already see what a big improvement everyone has made since the fall. The team gets together to play without the coaches several times a week as well. We are also very excited for the sand nets to be put up here at UVa. Virginia has beautiful sand volleyball courts right outside Memorial Gym. When the weather is nice, the team loves to get together and play some beach volleyball. Everyday we work towards our goal: to win.
The aspect of UVa that I love most is its balance of athletics and academics. Athletes at Virginia train and compete in some of the best facilities in the country with an experienced staff that is dedicated to improving our skills and overall experience at UVa. The academic resources here are invaluable and unmatched by any other university. Since midterms are coming up, I have been taking full advantage of all my resources here as a student-athlete. Academic advisors are more than willing to help you find or put together review sessions and the writing center is available to provide advice on essays.
This past week, I was accepted to study abroad in Valencia, Spain this summer. I am double-majoring in foreign affairs and Spanish, so being able to study abroad will be a great opportunity to take my Spanish to the next level. I believe everyone should study abroad if they have the opportunity. Valencia is right on the beach and has access to beautiful beach courts. As excited as I am to travel to Spain, I am even more excited for the fall season to show everyone how hard we have been working! Go Hoos!
February 25, 2013 - Redshirt junior middle Mallory Woolridge
During the 2012 volleyball season, I was unable to play due to a shoulder injury that resulted in surgery. It was something that I never could have mentally prepared myself for. Sitting on the sidelines for an entire season and not being able to play the sport that I love was one of the hardest things that I have ever gone through. Although it was an opportunity to take a look from the outside in and watch the game from a different perspective, not being able to play with my teammates was almost unbearable. Yes, I went through the ups and downs with them as one of their teammates, however I was unable to fully be a part of it with them on the court. I took the time that I was out for recovery to get into better physical shape as well as to rehab my shoulder to a point in which I could help my team when I came back. The hard work that I put in day in and day out was for my teammates and coaches. I was eager everyday to be on the court, but since I couldn’t be, I was determined to help in any way that I could. Another difficult aspect about not being able to play in the fall was the fact that we got a wonderful new coaching staff that I wasn’t able to play for. I was so excited to get new, great coaches and not being able to play for them right away was tough.
This spring is the first time I have been able to play volleyball with my team since May 9th of last year (2012). This has been a very exciting spring for me to say the least. Not only am I happy to be playing again, I am thrilled to get back to weight lifting and team conditioning as well. It may be difficult, but it is such an exhilarating feeling to know that with all of the hard work that we are putting in, it will pay off in the end. The coaching staff provides great support and encouragement by being at all of our lifts and conditioning sessions and supporting us on every step of the way. I could not be more excited to be back in action and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the UVa volleyball program since the culture is being morphed day by day into an atmosphere of determination, hard work, and all out commitment. The fall of 2013 simply cannot come soon enough!!!
February 6, 2013 - Rising junior middle Morgan Blair
Morgan Blair and classmates in front of the Brandenburg Gate
As an athlete, it is difficult to find an opportunity to study abroad. Workouts and school work take up a majority of our time, so a semester abroad is tough to negotiate. With that being said, I saw an opportunity to study in Germany for a two-week J-Term (January Term), without sacrificing too much training. On Dec. 29, I flew to Berlin to study the architecture and history of the city with a course was entitled, "Berlin and the Geography of Memory."
I can honestly say that my two weeks of studying in Berlin was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned so much about the history of the city and had many opportunities to speak German. I lived in Germany for four years and spoke mainly German, so this was the first time I was able to converse with native speakers since I had lived there. While in Berlin. we toured various parts of the city and even made day trips to the city of Dresden and to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp in Oranienburg outside of Berlin. Our course focused on the way Berlin memorializes itself, especially after World War II when the Allied air raid forces destroyed most of the city and efforts of both the Soviet-occupied German Democratic Republic in East Berlin and the American, French, and British-occupied Federal Republic of Germany in West Berlin to memorialize aspects of the city they deemed appropriate. We walked along the former path of the Berlin Wall, and discussed how reunified Germany remembers both the happy and dark parts of their history.
I returned home to New Jersey on Jan. 12 and drove down to Charlottesville the following day. Although I was sad to leave Germany, I was very eager to get back to school and begin spring training. I had missed my teammates so much over the course of winter break and I couldn't wait to start improving for next season. The transition, however, has been very demanding. We work out five days a week before our morning classes, which entails a combination of practice, weight training, and conditioning. Although it is very tiring, we know it will pay off in the end. We work so hard everyday and encourage each other to push harder. This, in addition to five rigorous classes, has made the beginning of this semester really busy, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.