Like a quarterback in football leading his team when the coach is on the sideline, volleyball also has a position where a natural leader is required — the setter position.
On the USF volleyball team, that person is senior Melayne Wootan, who is in her second season as a Bull and her first as a full-time starter.
Wootan was taught how to play the position by Ale Domingos, a two-time Conference USA setter of the year. This season Wootan is still learning from Domingos, however their relationship now is no longer player/player, it’s player/coach.
After her two-year career as a starter and a 15-year volleyball career, Domingos has returned to the Bulls to help guide younger players through the season.
This weekend Domingos hopes to see her hard work pay off when the Bulls play four games in a three-day Florida Atlantic Tournament against Florida International.
USF plays Florida Atlantic on Friday at 7 p.m., then faces Maryland at 10 a.m. and the Citadel at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The next day the Bulls travel to FIU for a 1 p.m. contest.
“I had finished my major and was working on my minor, but I would need more time with that,” Domingos said. “So, me and (USF coach) Nancy (Mueller) reached an agreement that was good for both of us, that I could stay around and still be involved with volleyball. Nancy has been very helpful.”
As the Bulls’ student assistant coach, Domingos practices with the team and trains players.
“For the most part what I do is just play with the girls, and kind of helping out the setters,” Domingos said. “But, my main job is to be there at practice, and give some inside tips to the girls, but not really involved with the coaching staff and preparing practice.”
Domingos was one of the Bulls’ most vocal leaders last year, so her coaching style has not differed much from her playing days.
“I think it’s a lot like the same as her as a player,” Wootan said. “She is demanding, which is nice because that’s what we need as coaches, and that’s what our coaches are.”
Wootan and Domingos have been working together closely this season, as one of Domingos’ most demanding responsibilities is training the setters.
“(She teaches) the little things that we need to take care of, especially with me,” Wootan said. “Little things that I need to notice with the blocks and with the hitters.”
Though Domingos is just a year out of her collegiate game days, she still receives respect from her players.
“I think it’s working really well,” Wootan said. “Ale is respected as a great setter, so I take a lot of advice from her.”
“I think the level of respect has always been there, but I think this year they are more willing to listen, just because whatever I tell them I have discussed with Nancy before,” Domingos said. “I think we all still have a very player-like relationship.”
Though she has had a smooth transition into the assistant coach’s position, Domingos said the job takes dedication.”I think it’s a lot tougher than actually playing,” Domingos said. “As much as you give instructions you’re not there to do it. I think also on the sideline, you see the bigger picture. I think being outside you can see more, but not being able to play is killing me I want to be there all the time.”
“I think Melayne has all the tools to have a great year,” Domingos said. “She’s experienced and has one of the best middles in our conference in Shameka (Mitchell). I think she will for sure improve throughout the year, as they all will.”