SEATTLE - It was business as usual for the Husky volleyball team in Alaska Airlines Arena this afternoon, except this was the grand opening for business this fall. Washington took the floor at 3 p.m. this afternoon for its first official practice, running through a number of drills over two hours in their first practice together as a team since since coming home from Italy early in July.
All fourteen Huskies on the roster were in high spirits throughout, with new freshmen Carly DeHoog and Bailey Tanner getting into the swing of things for the first time.
Just twenty days separate the Dawgs from their season opener against Boise State on August 30 in Portland. Head Coach Jim McLaughlin expects the team to make the most of each practice leading up to that date.
"We have a long ways to go," said McLaughlin. "I like the group. I appreciate their willingness to learn and work hard. It was a little sloppy, but the energy level was good. The movements aren't good yet, but they have a chance. The most important thing right now is understanding how we want to play, and what we want to do, and at some point know what it feels like to play well. That will come if we just keep working."
After some serving reps to open, the team ran through some left side hitting drills, with McLaughlin emphasizing and demonstrating the mechanics he wanted to see on their approaches. He told the group that the best spikers in the world hit with the techniques he was showing, and to be mindful of their body placement. Later in the practice, a serve-pass contest was followed by a fast-paced drill where the players tried to work on ball control and extending the rally as long as possible.
As for the new faces, Tanner got work as both a hitter as well as some setter reps, and DeHoog showed off her big southpaw swing.
"They're mature kids," McLaughlin said of the freshmen. "They weren't rattled. They were nervous, as they should be. They have a lot of emotions going on that are all good. But they were listening, and paying attention, and making adjustments which is the most important thing. I sure like having them in this gym."