Saturday the players arrived on campus, received dorm assignments, met new teammates and filled out reams of paper work. Monday morning they were on the court for the first practice session.
“The first practice always brings excitement,” said coach Brandon Rosenthal. “The anxiety that builds up is a little different for the fall sports because there is no lead time.”
The first days back are even more hectic for the freshmen who are making adjustments on a number of levels both on and off of the court. Rosenthal has welcomed three freshmen in outside hitters Kaycee Green, Kory Honel and Amanda Rhein. Also new to the team are junior Tory Ashcraft, a setter who is returning to the court after sitting out her freshmen and sophomore years; and junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer, who made the transition from Clemson during spring semester.
“I can only imagine the butterflies that are there for the freshmen,” said Rosenthal during a break from a busy practice schedule. “They have heard so much about college volleyball from their friends, their high school coaches and their club coaches.
“To through your first college practice is kind of like a baptism by fire. The first practice is a fun time. It is a learning process. We are not going to win or lose any games by what happens in the first practice.”
Rosenthal has been impressed with the energy of the team. He is also pleased with the way the upperclassmen have quickly raised the bar in terms of leadership.
“I really like the steps the upperclassmen have taken,” said Rosenthal. “The intensity in practice, not only in game-like situations, but in the drills, is definitely there.
“It is a fun team. While they are going through the process of getting to know each other and trying to figure out there identity they are having a good time.”
Rosenthal admits he doesn’t have a lot of rules for his team, but one of them is no cell phones during team meals. A violation prompted an extra session of running during Tuesday’s practice.
“There is a team aspect,’’ said Rosenthal. “You are no longer an individual. You are part of something bigger.”