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First-year volleyball head coach Lee Maes began his squad’s preseason camp this week in Memorial Gymnasium. The team held its first practice on Monday in preparation for its season-opening tournament in Harrisonburg, Va., on Aug. 29. Maes has 10 letterwinners from last season returning, while four newcomers have joined a team that went 18-13 a year ago.

Maes joins the Cavaliers from Nebraska, where he was the head women’s assistant coach for three seasons. During his time with the Cornhuskers, his teams compiled a 95-5 record, were Big 12 Conference Champions each season and won the NCAA Championship in 2006.

Question: What are your expectations of the seniors this season and how are they going to help create the balance between youth and experience on your squad?
Maes: The expectations are the same for all the seniors. They need to make others around them better and more productive. Imparting their experience and demonstrating leadership with their action and behavior on and off the court, in the classroom, and socially will be the bridge in assisting our younger players with acclimation to their UVa experience as a whole.

Question: Coming from a background in which you won a national championship at Nebraska and have had success on the national team level, what do you feel UVa has to offer that will allow you to carry this program into the national spotlight?

Maes: Comprehensive, that is the one term that defines the UVa experience our student-athletes have and recruits will realize. It’s evident, first and foremost, in the commitment and emotional support from the university, the athletic administration, the support staff and the community. We tend to cite the fact that UVa was and is the “Home of Presidents, Scholars and Champions”. It’s a slogan our volleyball program works to identify with in regards to our efforts in establishing and providing a package that reflects why UVa is such an attractive draw. The package is filled with academic prestige, athletic excellence, outstanding coaches, cultural diversity, social and vibrant activity, endearing history, wonderful alumni reciprocation, temperate climate, beautiful setting and genuine kinship. It’s the sum of the parts that we believe will attract the finest student-athletes to UVa and be the impetus towards our charge to national prominence.

Question: Who are you looking for to step up this season? Are there any seniors or underclassmen that you think will make a significant impact this season?
Maes: Those questions always solve themselves. We have talented returning athletes who are excited about their chance to compete with the best in the ACC and the nation. We also have gifted first years who are going to learn our system fast and push for playing time. They will certainly have an opportunity to contribute right away. Evaluating their performances everyday will help us make those decisions. My focus is to build a team that is strong together rather than expecting only a few to step up. It’s the sum of the parts that will dictate and impact our success.

Question: Is there anything you would like people to know about this years team that would entice them to come out and support the Cavaliers at Memorial Gymnasium?
Maes: Our team will play with purpose, urgency, discipline, enthusiasm, and an “attack” mentality. Our players will exhibit power, finesse, speed, intelligence and skill. Fans will see a fast, up-tempo offense predicated on ball-control and a relentless floor defense coordinated with efficient blocking. We have the ideal venue in Memorial Gym where the action is literally an arm’s length away. Fans will feel connected and immersed in an exciting, fast-paced, high scoring drama. Here’s an opportunity for the community to have some ownership in the growth of UVa volleyball and be part of the developing success that is to come. The wagon has started rolling along now and we want everyone to jump in for an exciting ride. We are saving seats, but standing-room only is our goal.

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