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Welcome to the Virginia Volleyball blog! Throughout the season, the Virginia volleyball team will be publishing entries about their experiences. Each day throughout the preseason, a different member of the team posted some insight to preseason training, team news and their thoughts. Stay tuned to for further updates from the Cavaliers throughout the season. Thanks for reading and Go ‘Hoos!

(Tuesday, 9/8): Hello ‘Hoos Volleyball Fans!

Our team had a wonderful weekend at the annual Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup coming away with a tournament title, lots of laughs and good times together.

Some highlights for us over the weekend were: veteran outside hitter Lauren Dickson having a banner weekend and coming away with the tournament MVP award. She had a consistent performance and was a great leader for our squad. First-year setter Rachel Gray did a great job distributing the ball among our attackers and is learning more and more about how to run our offense in an efficient manner. Sydney Hill is playing a much more substantial role on our team too. It is great to see how well she is embracing being a leader on and off the court for our middle blockers.

The crowd against VCU was also a great highlight for us! It was a five-set thriller and it was great to have the ‘Hoo Crew in the house backing us all the way! Mem Gym was definitely rockin’ and the fans helped push our team through to the win! The environment in Mem Gym just can’t be beat!

It is great to watch our team learn and grow as the season develops! Our next tournament is coming up this weekend at the Ameritas Players Challenge hosted by the University of Nebraska… somewhat of a homecoming for head coach Lee Maes. We are looking forward to playing Nebraska, UCLA, and BYU on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Stay tuned to our Blog as we update you throughout the weekend!


Ted Wade (Wednesday, 8/26): ROAD TRIP!

Monday was the end of our two-a-days. The team has been working very hard and things are starting to come together. We’ve done more six-on-six drills, more side out drills and more prepping to play other teams. The level of competitiveness has been very high so we are excited to get out and play other schools.

The team started classes yesterday so we didn’t practice. We took the day off on the first day of class as it gives the girls the day to focus on school issues and get used to their new schedules. Also, if there are any last minute issues that must be taken care of then, they have time to deal with it.

We did have a short team meeting to vote on team captains and to watch a little video. The girls are amped up to play as is the coaching staff. Today, we have our last preseason practice before we hit the road. On Thursday, we are off for our first tournament of the 2009 season. We will travel to College Station, Texas, the home of Texas A&M. We will be playing A&M, Northern Iowa and Iona on Friday and Saturday. Lauren, Tobi and Jess are all from Texas (Jill and I also!) so it will be fun for them to play in front of their families and friends. I’m off to practice!

Kendahl Voelker (Saturday, 8/22):
GAME DAY GAME DAY GAME DAY!!! (sorta kinda) Oh how I love GAME DAY!

Today we had our Blue vs. Orange scrimmage. To start the day off right, we had our usual Bodo’s Bagels with the most delicious orange juice in the world for breakfast. I’m from Florida, so I know good citrus when I see it. Following breakfast, we had our serve and pass drills to prepare for the scrimmage. We worked on a few different lineups too, just to coordinate our offensive systems with the defense.

After about an hour of game preparations, we had one of our favorites for lunch; STICKS! I know that normal people don’t usually get this excited about food, but the hummus and pita bread from this restaurant is mind-blowingly good. Since we typically eat at Mem Gym and then have a little extra time before games for rest and treatment, some of us will usually drive back home to rest. But not today, it was move in day for the first-years and there were so many cars! Where did all these people come from!? Talk about a reality check! School starts Tuesday though… so I guess the fun of just eating, sleeping and playing volleyball is sadly coming to an end.

Anywho, the entire team decided to just relax on the couches in front of our big screen and watch a Disney classic, Model Behavior. And then once we got our warm up gear on, the dance party commenced in the locker room. We love dancing crazily to loud music. It really gets us pumped up! AJ and Brit have an entire choreographed dance routine to Britney Spears’ ‘Gimme More’… it’s pretty sweet. I’m jealous of their sweet skills.

Circa 2 p.m., we had our team meeting to visualize attack patterns drawn out on the smart board. After we went over our semi-scouting report, Ted put on a pump up video to get us in the right mindset. It featured some movie quotes, intense music and some sweet highlights of us playing and making great plays against our opponents. Our pre-match videos give me goose bumps sometimes because they are so intense! We then headed up to the court for a warm-up and our SCRIMMAGE!!!!!

As coach Maes would say: “It’s time for a practical application of our training.”

It was really great to have a scrimmage before we actually start competing against other teams. We were able to showcase our abilities to our fans, as well as find our weaknesses so that we can prepare for our season and help each other improve. Sarah Kirkwood, a two-time All American and fellow native Floridian, joined us in our Blue vs. Orange scrimmage. It was really great to play with her again. We rotated through a few lineups and switched the teams around every set. I thought that we played really well. Not only were we competitive, but we also played to make each other improve.

We played until about 5 p.m. Immediately after the match, we hosted a Kids Clinic in which some adorable little kids and local junior high school players were able to work on their volleyball skills with us! A couple of them were so small that we had to hoist them up on a higher blocking box during the blocking station. I did the hoisting, because I’m strong like Bull.

When 6 p.m. rolled around, we broke down the nets and signed our volleyball posters. It’s always fun putting your John Hancock on a picture of yourself. I’m in the background on the poster looking like I’m about to throw a towel in celebration of winning a point… so I tried to strategically place my signature near myself without writing on someone elses face!

We had a small team meeting while we devoured our pita wraps from Pita Pit for dinner. I had the chicken souvlaki, always a good choice. The meeting focused on some of the highlights of our Blue vs. Orange scrimmage, as well as things that we could improve on next practice in order to be ready for our upcoming tournament at Texas A&M. Once we finished talking, we cheered and left Mem Gym to rest and recuperate.

Sunday is the day of rest and I plan on using my time as restful as possible! Plus, my new roommates move into the apartment so I can’t wait to start organizing our apartment so that it looks like we actually live in it, rather than just use it as a storage space for extra stuff.

Hillary Trebels (Thursday, 8/20): Today was another great day of preseason, Coach Maes even had a few “funnies”! We started the day with our morning “no jump” practice. The drills focused on passing, blocking footwork and team defense. After our morning practice, we had an engaging meeting with the life skills department in which we discussed healthy relationships. We then DOMINATED our lunch, Bodos Bagels, a Charlottesville favorite.

Our afternoon session was very productive. My favorite part was playing at the end because everyone gets competitive and into it! Other parts of practice focused on transition, defense and blocking. After practice we headed over to the McCue Center for an ice bath, which works wonders for sore legs. Our last part of the day together consisted of the team dinner from Outback and a meeting. During the meeting we reviewed our gym culture and team policies. At the end of the day the team left to go our separate ways; however, a lot of us headed to Tess, Brit, Lauren and Tara’s apartment for the premier of Project Runway.

Tara Hester (Wednesday, 8/19): When I woke up this morning (or this afternoon if you want to get technical, since it was almost 11:30 a.m.) I knew I had to take my computer to Cavalier Computers to get it fixed. It has been broken for five weeks and for five weeks I have claimed to my teammates that tomorrow will be the day I take it in. I am proud to say I finally followed through with my claim. Unfortunately, this means I had to swipe Tess’s computer from her to write my blog. So Tess, thank you for being a great sharer.

Today was a little strange since we didn’t have a volleyball practice. I wasn’t used to not seeing all of my teammates first thing in the morning. So by the time lift came around at 6:15 p.m., I was excited to see everyone. In fact, everyone seemed a little extra hyper during warm-ups. We eventually concluded that after 22 hours spent apart, our team missed each other and that was why we were so giddy at the beginning of lift. After warm-ups though, everyone focused in and got some good work done. I certainly know I will be feeling those slide-board lunges tomorrow! A funny incident did occur when Brittani nearly wiped out on the slide-board because it was so slippery, but luckily she recovered and the only that that was injured was her pride.

Following lift, I rushed home to get ready for our Senior Dinner. Lauren, Brittani and I met up with the coaches to eat dinner at Zocalo on the downtown mall. The conversation was very entertaining, ranging from topics like movies to childhood injuries. Somehow during the meal, I managed to spill half of my glass of water on my lap and get steak sauce all over my right arm. Fortunately, everyone else’s manners were impeccable -expect for the 10 minutes when we got in a massive food fight. Okay, that didn’t really happen… the food was too delicious to throw around and since almost everyone ordered different meals, there was a lot of trading bites. However, as Lauren and Ted both learned, when people are ordering exciting dishes like duck, salmon, steak and scallops, no one wants to try your chicken, no matter how many times you offer. On a side note, I actually was tempted to get the chicken because it came with something the menu called “avocado salad”. I was disappointed when it turned out to just be guacamole (not that I don’t like guac). But seriously, I don’t get why they don’t just call it guac. I guess “avocado salad” just sounds fancier.

Yep, that was a completely pointless anecdote but this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t include at least one bad story.

Rachel Gray (Tuesday, 8/18): I spent my first night in the dorms last night! It was nice to have the opportunity to move in early and get everything situated before school starts next week!

Our morning session went really well today and after that we had a guest speaker from the program STEP UP. Instead of going back to the dorms in between sessions, we stayed in the locker room and took a nap and rested up before our next session. In the afternoon session we worked on ball control and we also went through rotations. We even scrimmaged a little bit at the end!

After practice we had an ice bath and then had Chipotle awaiting us when we were done. YUM! After dinner and our team meeting, the first-years went back to one of the older girls’ apartment and watched the movie Two Weeks Notice. It was nice to relax and hang out with some of our teammates before Hillary, one of the second years, took us back to our dorm at the end of the night.

We have tomorrow off so we get to stay up a little later than usual and hang out. It will be nice to have a day off to rest our bodies and get everything else in our dorm set up!


Tobi Farrar (Monday, 8/17): Coming back from a day off was a little rough. Today started our second week of preseason and I am finally recovering from my soreness. We started off practice with our dynamic warm-up and then did our daily routine stretching. Morning practice consisted of our ball control butterfly drill, team defense and serving. We split up by positions; middles, setters and outside hitters each had their own court for serve receive. Middles concentrated on blocking footwork and passing short balls.

After practice, we grabbed lunch and headed back to the Residence Inn. The other first-years, Simone, and I have been staying there for preseason but tonight we get to move out into our permanent dorms!!! I took a cat nap back at the hotel and then headed back to the gym for our second practice of the day. Practice was positive and when we scrimmaged some in the end, we were really hustling. Our passing and attacking on serve receive was great and our plays are looking awesome! I can’t wait to see all of it happening in a real match!

As soon as practice was over, we headed to McCue to lift weights. It was the end of a long day, but everyone did great then headed to dinner. Coach Maes decided to postpone our typical team meeting over dinner for tonight so we could get back to the hotel and start moving out. We had tons of boxes and things to move so some of the team brought their cars and helped out. By 9:30 p.m. we were all moved in!!

As of now I’m feeling really good about our season coming up! We are working hard in the gym and making the most of it! I can’t wait to see how we end up this year!

Jess O’Shoney (Sunday, 8/16):
Today was a lazy day.

After my immune system crashed this morning around 3 a.m., it was nice knowing that I wouldn’t have to be waking up at 7:40 that same morning to start another week of preseason. I took days off for grant it until today, so I did a whole lot of nothing.

I saw a lot of the inside of my eyelids, watched a little bit of TV (some good movies are on TV on Sundays: Jumanji, The Rookie, We Are Marshall, just to name a few of the ones I caught glimpses of) and knew absolutely nothing of the world outside of my room at the Residence Inn.

I realized today, too, that my soreness is finally almost completely gone. This realization came to me as I stood up off the toilet normally without having to use the doorframe and/or the toilet paper holder to heave myself up.

All in all, I’d say today was a productive day.

Lauren Dickson (Saturday, 8/15): Wow I can’t believe week one of preseason is over! It was a week filled with a lot of hard work, sweat, and soreness (all good things of course), and it could not have ended with a better day!

We came into this morning’s practice with lots of energy and excitement knowing that we had the afternoon off (after a brief dance party to Sydney’s new locker room CD). Coach Maes put us in an even better mood when he told us we would be scrimmaging most of the day – finally a chance to put everything we’ve been working on into action and compete! I am really excited about where we are as a team after only a week of practicing… now I just can’t wait to be beating up on other teams instead of each other!

After practice we went home to prep for our afternoon team activity. Instead of our usual practice, we had a pool party to go to! And thank goodness for this pool party because everyone finally shaved their legs! Personal appearance is definitely not a priority during preseason and we were all getting a little prickly (for some of us I’d even venture to say furry). We all met at the Residence Inn to caravan out to our destination. Some friends of the volleyball program generously opened up their home – complete with a pool and diving board – to us as a change in scenery from Mem Gym. What a welcomed change this was! It was so nice to just relax and enjoy each other’s company surrounded by Charlottesville’s gorgeous countryside. We are so blessed to have such wonderful people supporting our team; we cannot thank them enough for their hospitality!

On a final note…I know we will all be sleeping well tonight. First of all, we have very full and satisfied stomachs from this afternoon’s spread (platters of sandwiches, fruit, salads, and the most amazing desserts)! Second of all, we know that we are halfway through two-a-days and one week closer to the beginning of our season. And most importantly, no alarm is set for 7:45 tomorrow morning. Yes, we have the entire day off tomorrow! My quads are definitely thankful for that! I think we may all go see The Time Traveler’s Wife tomorrow, so stay tuned…good night and Go ‘Hoos!

AJ Cushman (Friday, 8/14):
TGIF!!!… well kind of. We still have practice tomorrow, but I love Fridays! However, I must say that the days have started blending together. If I’m not in the gym, I’m either eating or sleeping. I only know what time it is when I am trying to get to practice on time. It is not necessarily a bad thing. Life is simple; I eat, sleep, and play a sport I love. Not a bad deal if you ask me. My body hurts, but I am really excited about where our team is at this point.

Today we had another double-day, but during lunch (Panera… yumm!) we had a special guest speaker who talked about “Step Up.” We learned about bystander intervention, and why people do not help in situations that require help. They also spoke of conformity. I learned about these concepts in a psych class and I find the material really interesting. I like why they do this presentation at UVa. Everyone at this school is a leader, and furthermore, everyone has a responsibility to hold others accountable or act when we see something we don’t agree with. It can be difficult to accept this responsibility, but I think this program will help give people the tools needed to “Step Up.”

I would also like to mention an incident that I experienced today. After the first session, I usually have time to take a crucial nap for about an hour/hour-and-a-half depending on when I get home from practice. However, I only had about 30 minutes today because of the presentation. I really needed this nap today. (Back story: My roommate and I are pet sitting for my next-door neighbor’s cat while she is in Boston for field hockey preseason. Most of the time this kitten is crazy! At the same time, she can be so cute and cuddly when she isn’t flying through the apartment uncontrollably, so you never really know which side of her you will see.) I flop onto my bed and leave my door open because the kitty was in cute/cuddly mode. I pass out for about ten minutes, and all of a sudden, I awake with a scream and pain in my right foot. The kitten was hanging from my foot by her claws while gnawing on my toe. Apparently, she switched back to crazy mode within my ten minutes of slumber. I freaked out and frantically shook her off of my foot. She went flying through the air; but of course landed on her feet and darted off, while I spent the rest of my “nap” tending to my wounds and realizing why I am a dog person. Did I mention that I really wanted that nap?

Simone Asque (Thursday 8/13): Today was the fourth day of preseason but it was not like the last three days of two-a-days. We had the morning off and then practiced in the afternoon. After practice we had lifting and then we had our team “Hoos Top Chef” cook off!

In the morning the first-years and I woke up early to get some of the awesome breakfast that our hotel prepares for all of the guests in the morning. It was delicious as it always is! We then went back to our rooms to savor the extra sleep we could get into our systems. Next we got up and ready to go to practice.

In practice, we covered a lot of skill sets and training which consisted of some position specific skills and then also team defensive system work. Because it was the only practice of the day all of us knew that we had to use the opportunity to rest in the morning and to focus in and get work done in practice. I think the team and I did well and used the hours of practice as hours of good training. After practice we had lifting with our strength coach, Jim, and we kept our focus through lift even though we were growing more and more excited for the cook off. After we completed lift, we all got ready for the cook off. We met Rob at Harris Teeter, received the rules for our meals, talked within our teams and then were off! The Teams were:

Team Back in Black = Brittani, Kendahl, Tess, Hillary, Jess and Rachel
Team Num-Num = Sydney, Lauren, AJ, Tara, Tobi and myself – Simone

At first each team was scurrying around Harris Teeter until we glanced at each other’s carts and realized that we were both planning on making the same dish! Because my team – Team Num-Num got up from the planning tables second, we had to change our dish. At first we were a little bummed by this, but then the ideas we came up with after really made our dinner better than we had originally planned. Both teams had thought up of making fish tacos, so Team Back in Black made those while we switched to making chicken lettuce wraps – which were awesome!! The cook off was a lot of fun and the food each team made was fantastic. Team Back in Black made fish tacos, brown rice with broccoli, and fruit/yogurt desert. My team, Team Num-Num made chicken lettuce wraps, brown rice with egg whites, seaweed salad, Edamame, and fruit smoothies for desert. Everything tasted awesome. But in the end four out of the four judges voted for Team Num-Num!!!

Overall it was a good day. A lot of hard work was put in, and a lot of fun was had.

Sydney Hill (Wednesday 8/12): The third day of preseason is done. FFFFffffhhewwww. So far we have spent about 17 hours in the gym, one hour in the weight room, three hours eating together and one hour in team meetings. The majority of the remaining 50 hours are spent snuggled into our apartments or the always friendly “Res Inn” (Marriot Residence Inn), where our first years live before the dorms open.

For me, those 50 hours have been dedicated in LARGE part to my bed. During these STRENUOUS hours I have been sleeping, reading a good new book, playing the addicting twisty text on my phone, watching a favorite movie, or entertaining myself with anything on television that requires absolutely zero thinking. My favorite “no brainers” include: What Not to Wear, Jon and Kate Plus 8, anything on E!, and Bravo’s addicting reality shows; however at the moment I am hooked on The Notebook, every girls favorite.

The completion of day three has many meanings. First, we are over “the hump”. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are the first three days of preseason. These three days have included: two-a-days, team meetings, ice baths in 50 degree water, and unavoidable soreness (you know the kind that makes you think twice about going to the bathroom because that porcelain bowl seems soooooo far away and your legs might not make it). But now we can all say that we made it through day three of preseason 2009. The hump has been conquered. The more exciting side of preseason awaits us.

Second, tomorrow morning will not include a 7:30 a.m. wake up call. That’s right. Tomorrow’s one and only practice starts at 1 p.m. Ahhhhh, the sound of p.m. attached to the first practice time of the day in preseason a blessing. It’s like when you arrive at Arch’s on a hot Charlottesville night to find your favorite Wow Cow flavor attached to those big silver machines and in your wallet you carry a card with 10 stamps already adorning the orange paper ticket. Yes, the first morning off in preseason is like getting your favorite Arch’s Wow Cow for free. Tomorrow morning will include no alarm (unless you are Tara Hester who has “sleeping skills” that rival a hibernating bear).

Third, tomorrow is the day of the highly anticipated, 2nd Annual ‘Hoos Top Chef. As a member of the 1st Annual ‘Hoos Top Chef WINNING team, I have nothing but excitement for tomorrow’s events. I cannot give away the juice for tomorrow’s blog, but stay tuned for some intense competition and delicious food Thursday…

Ahhhh I almost forgot….Coach Maes made a “funny” today in our team meeting! We were talking about the importance of being coordinated while playing team defense and he said, “we need to be NSYNC* not Backstreet Boys.” Haha. You’re getting better coach!

Tess Udall (Tuesday 8/11): This morning, we took our time warming up and stretching -which everyone needed after quickly jumping in to double sessions yesterday. All of us were talking about how glad we were that we decided to take an ice bath last night to help mediate soreness for today. After a good warm-up, we reviewed a lot of the passing techniques that we went over yesterday and worked with partners. Then we broke up into positions; middles, setters and outside hitters/liberos each had separate courts to work on skills specific to their position.

The middles were concentrating on blocking footwork while we worked on rhythm passing. Meanwhile, the setters were working on the different types of sets we have in our offense. Coach Maes likes to keep the jumping to a minimum in the mornings in order to save our legs for the afternoon sessions, so we do a lot of technical work and passing in the mornings. We also worked a lot on serve receive in groups today, and the results were very impressive for just the second day of practice. We have the potential to control the ball at a very high level this season.

After lunch and a nap, we started the afternoon session with a circuit warm-up that has six stations located around the gym. We each have a partner and we go around the stations twice and then stretch afterwards, which definitely gets us sweating, especially in Mem Gym in the summer! Afterwards, we broke up into positions again for a little while and then we started doing integrated blocking and hitting drills. We ended practice with the first six-on-six drill we have done so far and it went really well. The level of intensity and hustle that was present was awesome. I am feeling really good about where we are as a team for only being on the second day of preseason practices – we were tearing it up in the gym today and I can’t wait to see where we are in the next few weeks!!

Brittani Rendina (Monday 8/10): Today was the beginning of a new era in UVa Volleyball: The first day of Pre-Season 2009! And what a day to start on: historically high temperatures nearing 100 degrees! Lucky for us, we just got a brand new stash of Nike dry fit shirts to practice in… so that helped. Oh, and did I mention our new shoes? Heaven. For the first time we won’t be needing three weeks to break in our shoes!

There are so many things to love about the beginning of the season:
– New issued gear J
– Everyone in the conference is 0-0 and the chance to be conference champs is just sitting at your finger tips
– During two-a-days, stuffing our faces every chance we get is considered optimal nutrition
– We have no homework to distract us: Volleyball is LIFE!

We were so fortunate to be able to have the whole team back in town during July. We all got the chance to work out together and be a support system over the summer. I’m also so proud to welcome our three new first year players, who we’ve loved getting to know over the past month, and I’m sure they will make a huge impact on our team this year! For all of you who follow UVA Volleyball, I promise this year will be a year to remember. For all of you who don’t (yet)… you picked a great year to become Super Fans!

Go ‘Hoos!

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