The Sacramento State volleyball squad completed its first week of practice today. The team practiced nine times over a five-day span, including twice a day Monday through Thursday. After Friday morning's practice, hornetsports.com had a chance to speak with head coach Ruben Volta, and get his impressions of the first week of practice. Below are those sound bites.
Q: Are there any specific things you have been pleased with in practice thus far?
A: I'm happy with the improvement the team has shown over the first five days. In particular, our middle blockers have made a lot of progress. We scrimmaged today, and the middles did a very nice job of attacking in a live situation. Overall, the energy level has been very good, and everyone is working hard. A couple players in particular have made big strides in attacking. Kayla Beal and Lauren Aikels have attacked really, really well, and I'd like to think there is some carryover from the sand season in the spring. Sloan Lovett has been attacking well on the outside as well. I've been pretty happy with everybody's attacking in general.
Q: Any surprises during the first week of practice?
A: Our passing. It was an area of concern because we lost our three primary passers from a year ago. But I've been really pleased with numerous players. Regarding the returners, we have players passing better now than they have their entire career. Our new players, who I thought would be good passers, have also done a very nice job.
Q: What has the atmosphere been like in practice?
A: Today, in particular, was a very good day in terms of communication. Players were really encouraging each other. Overall, there has been a lot of good energy, and a lot of communicating well with each other. I like the fact they are pushing each other competitively to do well. (Team co-captains) Hannah Hettinga and Kayla Beal really set a tone as far as hustling after balls and encouraging teammates during the first practice on Monday, and its been contagious with the rest of the team.
Q: Any players that have stood out so far?
A: Kayla Beal's overall game has really stood out. She is viewed as a right side hitter, but has shown huge improvement playing on the left side. She can play on the left, right, back row, and has become a full six-rotation player. Statistically, she has been one of the best passers this week. Chelcy Motes has retained a lot of the training we did in the spring in terms of timing in the middle and has been attacking very well. Lexie Skalbeck had a very good week in terms of passing for a high percentage. Morgan Stanley's all-around game has been impressive. Everyone has shown improvement, and I've been pleased in all areas, especially with our passing.
Q: Talk about the five freshmen and how impressed you have been with them.
A: Their maturity level and competitiveness have been great. They are not timid in the sense that some freshmen come in and keep quiet until they get used to collegiate volleyball. From Day 1, this group came out confident, they communicate, and they aren't afraid to encourage teammates. Collectively, they possess a very mature volleyball demeanor.
Q: What are some things the team will be working on over the final two weeks of practice leading up to the season opener?
A: Consistency, and we just started working on our team offense off serve receive. We've done a lot of skill and timing work in a controlled environment, but now we need to implement that off serve receive and work on the consistency of our attack.