For the UC Davis volleyball team, the goal is always the same – make it to the NCAA tournament.
In order to secure an automatic bid, the Aggies will need to finish at the top of the Big West conference. Otherwise, a top three finish, combined with some quality non-conference wins, should see them receive an at-large bid.
Leading the Aggies for their 2011 campaign will be senior middle blocker Betsy Sedlak.
“She is one of the best team captains I have seen in my 17 years of coaching,” said fourth-year head coach Jamie Holmes. “She is a fantastic leader because of her ability to be direct with our athletes and hold the standards high, while presenting herself as approachable off the court.”
The experience and leadership of fellow senior middle blocker Katie Denny with also be key, explained Holmes, going so far as to call Denny one of the hardest working kids in the country.
Two other key returners are sophomore Jenny Woolway and junior Allison Whitson.
Woolway had a stellar rookie year and was named to the Big West All-Freshman team last year after finishing 18th in the country in assists per game.
Holmes is hoping to get similar first-year production out of her newest players – freshmen Katie Quinn, Holland Seymour and Megan Lancaster.
“They’re focused, they learn very quickly and they’re athletic. All three of those kids will have a significant impact on the program,” Holmes said of the freshmen.
Of the three, Katie Quinn looks most likely to secure a spot in this year’s starting six.
“Quinn looks to be statistically performing at a very high level, so I anticipate that we’ll see a lot of her in our starting lineup,” Holmes said.
Regardless of who is on the court, the Aggies face a long and relentless schedule. The preseason opens with three consecutive away tournaments, starting this weekend at the Northern Colorado Classic in Greenly, Colo. The team must also travel to Tulsa, Okla. and Denver, Colo., before hosting the Aggie Invitation on Sept. 16 and 17 at The Pavilion.
After the home tournament comes the regular season, with UC Davis playing 16 consecutive conference matches during a nearly two-month period ending in November. For the Aggies, every match will be important as they drive toward their goal of an NCAA tournament berth.
“The season is a marathon,” Holmes said. “If each day we go out and worry about playing to our full potential and worry about getting better at something, than the outcome will take care of itself.”
– Caelum Shove