Winning the conference championship is a goal teams in the NCAA strive for every season. Proving they are the best team in their respective conference can give teams definite bragging rights. The FAMU women’s volleyball team accomplished that goal last year by going 8-0 in the conference.
With an undefeated season and an 18-8 overall record, the team was knocked out of the first round of the tournament by Oklahoma. However, the ladies believe they are a step away from greatness, and as a result the team is hungry for more.
As the offseason approaches, the team is ready for the training it will have to endure. Conditioning can be an important virtue that won’t show up in the stat books. Volleyball athlete Chelsea Pinnick agreed and said the team must be prepared.
“We must be in shape for the upcoming season,” said Pinnick, a sophomore pharmacy student from Jacksonville, “We must be physically and mentally in shape so we can make it out of the first round of the tournament.”
In the offseason, the volleyball players know they will have to give it their all to become better athletes. Practice makes perfect, and the team knows plenty of it will be needed. Running drills, skill practice and weightlifting are a few things the team will have to do in the offseason.
The team must not only get better together, but athlete Maria Gomez said they must also focus on becoming better individually.
“While conditioning and training, we have to focus individually, so everyone can be better as a team,” said Gomez, a sophomore economics student from South America. “That way it is easier to succeed since nobody is a weak link.”
The offseason is also crucial for players to recover from injuries from the prior season.
“We have to get healthy, so we can all contribute, get the surgeries out of the way so we have a clear slate,” Pinnick said.
In addition to working hard and being healthy, the players must put all the pieces of the puzzle together in order to be successful. Outside hitters Pinnick and Gomez, along with setter Zaira Manzo, must have a great season to continue the team’s success.
The most important factor of the team’s future is Jovanna Blazeski, a freshman outside hitter from Serbia. Blazeski was the MEAC Rookie of the Year and was named to the CVU.com Stellar Spike team for rising stars in America. Only 14 players were selected from around the country. This is a supreme accomplishment since there are 117 division 1A schools in the country.
The team seems to agree that to be the best you must beat the best. The Lady Rattlers volleyball team hopes the offseason program will heal them and then whip them into shape for another stellar season so they can compete with the best.
Last year was just a taste of what FAMU can accomplish, and in the upcoming 2008-2009 season, the Rattlers look to do more than just win the MEAC – maybe even win the NCAA.