SEATTLE - The start of another journey always has Head Coach Jim McLaughlin fired up. The four-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year led the Husky volleyball team through its first official fall practice on Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena, taking the first steps towards what the team hopes is another long postseason run.
"It was fun to be back in the gym," said McLaughlin. "It's fun to be around them and just go to work. We have a long way to go, but I like this group. As long as we get better in every facet, learn how to learn, how to change, we're going to pass some tests along the way."
Four new Huskies dove right into the action in their first collegiate practice. Tia Scambray and Courtney Schwan got a lot of swings from their outside hitter spots, Crissy Jones worked mostly with the middle blockers, and Reni Meyer-Whalley mixed it up with reps at setter and as a back row defender.
Washington's freshman foursome: Courtney Schwan, Crissy Jones, Reni Meyer-Whalley, Tia Scambray.
The four were surely juggling a flood of emotions, but as McLaughlin said, "All that stuff is good. Anxiousness, excitement, nervousness. We're not good yet, and I think the team understands that, and if they didn't we told them. There was energy, not enough, but for a first day, I saw at times a good level of intensity and I saw a little bit of expectation towards the end of practice."
The Huskies started the day with a team meal at Ivar's on the waterfront, then held a team meeting where McLaughlin and Leslie Gabriel and Keegan Cook laid out the principles of the team and what it will take to get where they want to go.
Back in the gym, the team started with some ball control drills, then broke up into groups with the outside hitters and middle blockers working on their attacking skills. Some full team point play was followed by serving reps, as the Huskies look to reenforce one of their 2013 strengths.
As Coach McLaughlin often says, last year's 30-3 record and Final Four appearance will buy the Huskies half a cup of coffee this year. On Saturday, the Dawgs finished off the cup and started brewing a fresh pot.