The USF volleyball team is entering a season of transition.
Last season may have been USF coach Courtney Draper’s first year at the helm, but now Draper will have the benefit of a full offseason where she believes there are a multitude of reasons as to why this season will be better than the last.
“I think our staff is a lot more familiar of what to expect from opponents, even though it’s a new conference,” Draper said.
Last year, Draper had only a few short weeks to prepare for the season and get familiar with the players. This season, however, the coaching staff will face none of these problems.
An important aspect of this season that could make the Bulls more successful is the fact that the new players were recruited by the current
coaching staff rather than the past one — something Draper said she is excited about.
“We had a chance to do some recruiting with this team, so we know their personalities a bit better,” Draper said. “It’s easier when you know your players.”
While last season was certainly not a failure for the Bulls, there were a lot of roadblocks that limited the potential for the team.
To the delight of the Bulls, they not only have a year of experience behind their coaching staff, but the sophomores received a lot of playing time due to the team being so young last season.
“We don’t really have to depend on the freshmen this year,” Draper said. “All four of our sophomores this year started last year as freshmen, so while our team looks young on paper we are really more experienced than some may think.”
With the Bulls entering the AAC, the slate is clean and the first ever conference championship is up for grabs.
The Bulls are still a very young team, but they have a year of experience and relationships to build upon. The returning players are excited to continue to grow with this staff and make the most of the season.
“Our goal for this season is to make it to the NCAA tournament and hopefully past the first round,” sophomore setter Wylie Devlin said.
Apart from the freshmen and sophomores, there are only two juniors and one senior on the team.
Senior Andrea Rodriguez Gomez said she is ready to embrace her role as a leader and mentor to this young squad, but still wants to compete at a high level this season despite the youth of the team.
“It would be special, being that I’m a senior, to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Gomez said. “I haven’t been able to do that with other teams here at USF.”
The USF squad this season has set high expectations for themselves, but the attitude among the players is encouraging and it looks as though the Bulls are set to improve off of last season.