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May 7, 2013

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Virginia volleyball head coach Dennis Hohenshelt recently sat down with to talk about the squad’s spring practice season, where the team improved and more.

Question: What are your overall thoughts on the spring practice season?

Hohenshelt: I think we accomplished a lot of things that we wanted to. We gave each student-athlete four or five things we wanted them to get better at and had four or five things in different areas we wanted to improve upon as a team. I think we got to the things we needed to get to and we’re pretty excited about where we are at the end of the spring. I was pretty pleased with the student-athletes’ effort and how they improved.

Question: What was biggest thing that you wanted the team to focus on?

Hohenshelt: We asked them to do a lot and we trained hard. I thought that’s what we had to do, because to me, that’s how you should train. I didn’t think it was overly tough. The hardest part was that in the mornings they had to get their bodies going. They worked really hard in the weight room. I think Bill (strength and conditioning coach Bill Miller) did a really good job with them in the spring and all of them are stronger. It’s a grind but that’s what it’s supposed to be. Maybe it’s a good standard to set for them. Now they know what spring is going to be like and that’s what we have to do every spring if we are going to get better.

Question: Where are one or two areas you saw the team improve the most?

Hohenshelt: I think one area we spent a lot of time on was our block and defense. I think our blocking came around a little bit and we tried to be a lot better at that technique-wise and system-wise. I like what our back-row players did this spring defensively. I thought we made some nice plays. We played pretty hard defensively and that is a trait I want this team to have so I was pretty pleased. I don’t put a lot of stock into wins or losses in the spring, because we are playing different people in positions they may not play in come the fall. I just ask the girls to play hard. If we win, great, but I want them to play hard and I think the wins happen if you play hard.

Question: What does it mean to have Mallory Woolridge back after missing last year due to injury?

Hohenshelt: Having Mallory this spring made a world of difference. I thought she had a fantastic spring. From watching her play against other ACC schools, I think she is going to be one of the better middles in the league. Not knowing how good she was going to be was probably the one big surprise. We hadn’t seen her play that much. We thought she was pretty good in the gym, but then she went out and played against other teams and was really good.

Question: After the final practice, what was your final message to the team?

Hohenshelt: Throughout the year, we got some areas of improvement accomplished. Maybe not wins or loses in the fall, but we got down how we want to play. We carried that over, made a list of things we wanted to work on and got better at them in the spring. It’s a progression. From now until August 10th, it’s on them. That was my message to them, `What are you going to do now?’ We have given them the formula. They know the things they need to get better at. So I really put it on their shoulders a little bit, because there are seven new players coming in in the fall and that’s a lot of people. I explained to them that there is going to be a lot of competition, so you better be ready. You better be at your best.

Question: Final thoughts on the spring?

Hohenshelt: I was pretty pleased. When we talk about the seven recruits coming in, that’s almost half of a team that’s going to be new because we had 11 healthy bodies this spring. So you don’t know who is going to play or what is going to happen. The ones we had in the gym this spring, I was extremely pleased with them. This spring was really a training block for us. By the end of it, I was pretty happy with where we were.

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