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Following an impressive freshman campaign, sophomore Jess O’Shoney returns to the Cavaliers’ lineup to help lead the Virginia volleyball team this season. In the annual Blue-Orange scrimmage last weekend, O’Shoney led the charge at the net with a team-high 13 kills and seven blocks. This weekend, the middle blocker looks to help the Cavaliers in their season opening tournament at the Temple Invitational. Virginia will open with Valparaiso on Friday at 2 p.m., before taking on Delaware (1 p.m.) and Temple (7 p.m.) on Saturday.

Question: Preseason is over and the team is preparing for its season opener this week. How do you feel the preseason went?
O’Shoney: Preseason went surprisingly well. I can already tell that we are miles ahead from where we were this time last year and it’s getting me really pumped for this season and our chances at winning the ACC Championship.

Question: As a second year, you knew more of what to expect for this year’s preseason sessions. Do you feel more prepared heading into this regular season than you may have last year?
O’Shoney: I’m not scared as heck like I was last year, and that’s already putting me at ease heading into the season. Having a year of experience under my belt and the time to adjust to Coach Maes’ coaching style, I feel so much more prepared than last year. I can actually just enjoy playing volleyball now.

Question: How have the newcomers adjusted to the team?
O’Shoney: The newcomers have adjusted really well; it makes me kind of embarrassed actually. I don’t feel like I was as far along as they all are at this time last year.

Question: You were able to get out and play this past Saturday in the annual Blue-Orange scrimmage. How exciting was that?
O’Shoney: The Blue-Orange scrimmage is always so exciting. I mean, we practice together every day for hours on end, but the scrimmage is a time for us to go out there and show what we’ve learned so far. The chance to play with everyone and try out different positions is always a lot of fun.

Question: How do you feel the team did?
O’Shoney: I felt the team did really well. It was also a lot of fun to get to play with Jenny, our new assistant. We were definitely challenging one another on the court, which is always a sign that the team has a lot of depth.

Question: There was a pretty good fan base that showed up for the scrimmage too. Do you anticipate big crowds this year?
O’Shoney: I am hopeful for a large fan base this year. The fans add to the atmosphere of the gym and playing with a big crowd behind you, hearing huge roars of cheers whenever you get an awesome kill or make a great play, always seems to add to the intensity of the games.

Question: The team has three matches this weekend at Temple. What are you most excited about for this opening weekend?
O’Shoney: I’m most excited to see different competition this weekend. We practice so much against each other on a daily basis that we know each other’s tendencies, so playing against new teams is always exciting.

Question: Classes are also starting this week. What does your course load look like? Are there any classes on your schedule that you’re especially looking forward to?
O’Shoney: I’m taking 12 hours this semester and I’m actually kind of looking forward to all my classes. I’ve already changed my major twice since being here, so I’m taking this semester to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’m excited to see where that will lead!

Question: Did you take any classes this summer? Or what did you do you’re your time?
O’Shoney: My summer vacation consisted of being home for less than a month before coming back to Charlottesville to take a biology class as well as work summer camps. Although I wasn’t home for much time, being home is always fun. I’m really close with my mom and I got to spend a lot of time with her as well as do other things like help my brother pick out his engagement ring for his new fiancé. There’s never a dull moment with my family, and since I’m so far from home for school, I really enjoy all the time I do get to spend with them.

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