Huskies Hit The Gym For Start Of Spring
April 5, 2012
SEATTLE - With football and men's and women's soccer already into their spring seasons, the Husky volleyball team got into the mix today as well, taking to the Marv Harshman Court at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon for an energetic first practice than ran just past the two hour mark.
Washington has six weeks to get better, with the spring season ending on May 18. Mixed into the practice routine will be at least two scrimmages, though the dates have yet to be finalized. The first scrimmage will come on either April 21 or 28, with the second scrimmage falling on May 5 or 12.
It was a typical Husky practice, intense and fast-paced, with Head Coach Jim McLaughlin emphasizing to the players that seeing the right things was the necessary first step. Passing, as always, was a big focus, and the setters spent time working on plays setting the quick or right side attack prior to some light full scrimmaging.
"Learning how to practice well, thinking the right thoughts, keeping the energy up," were at the top of McLaughlin's list today. "I liked today, we worked hard mentally, physically, emotionally. It wasn't great. We're slow because we're looking at things but we don't see the situations yet. We're not as quick as we can be. We've got to dial in on that and understand and we'll start to see things."
The group on the floor was fairly similar to the one last on the court in December when the Huskies reached the NCAA tournament for the 10th straight season. Outside hitters Kylin Muñoz, Gabbi Parker, Krista Vansant, and Kaleigh Nelson got plenty of swings and passing work. Defensive specialists Kelly Holford, Jenna Orlandini, and Kim Condie fed Jenni Nogueras at the setter position.
Nogueras was complemented on the other side of the net by graduating senior Evan Sanders, who plans to begin a pro career overseas this summer. Another senior back working with the team was All-American middle blocker Bianca Rowland, who shared time in the middle with senior-to-be Kelcey Dunaway.
A happy sight for the Huskies was seeing Amanda Gil back on the practice court, as she continues to make a lot of progress after knee surgery ended her 2011 season right before it began.
"They fixed her knee," said McLaughlin, "but there's still a process involved, where even though she's cleared, her joint is good and the bone is good but her muscles have to develop. You've got to go hard, but you can't go too long. Then we go a little longer every day, and she rehabs and just takes care of it."
Today, Gil played only in the back row, and saved all her jumping for after practice, but the 6-6 middle blocker showed she's more than capable of picking up some great digs, and willing to go to the floor when needed.
"Amanda is a good volleyball player. She can set a ball on an off play and put it in the right area and keep the hitter in rhythm. She can dig the ball off the net. She brings more than just ability. I've always looked for that in kids," McLaughlin said. "What else do you bring to the table? And she brings a lot. I'm just hoping and praying every day that she makes the progress needed, but right now day one was good."
The only returner on the sidelines today was setter/defensive specialist Anna Cesari, who suffered a concussion during an offseason workout and is overcoming the effects.
"She's going to be okay, we've got to wait for the doctors to say it's okay to go, but she's champing at the bit, she doesn't like sitting on the sidelines," said McLaughlin.
The Dawgs will have full practices again this Friday and Saturday before taking a day off, then four more practices next week.