Volleyball is making each practice day count
One season removed from an eighth-place finish in the American Athletic Conference, the Cougars volleyball team will look to compete for the conference championship by conquering the basics and taking it one day at a time.
“We’re doing a lot of simple things that are fundamental that we’ve got to master to be good,” Fifth-year head coach Kaddie Platt said. “For us, it’s just about getting better every day.”
Under Platt’s direction, the Cougars will build a foundation through working on things like ball control, footwork and passing. Platt is also looking for her veteran players to step up and help the younger players with their skill work.
UH volleyball enters the season with 10 returning players and a bevy of transfers and freshmen, some of whom will be expected to play right away.
“We’ve got a talented (incoming) group, and the returners know that they’re pretty talented, and then we had some transfers come in the spring who should contribute right away on the court,” Platt said.
The Cougars will not have many holes to fill as they only lost four players to graduation. However, they took a hit to their defense with the departure of libero Olivia O’Dell.
While Platt believes that she will not be able to replace the O’Dell’s four years of experience and skill, she is looking forward to seeing the defensive specialists who came in this year compete for the job.
“I think when you can create a competitive environment like that, it’s going to make everyone better,” Platt said.
O’Dell was also the leader in digs for the team, but the Cougars will return the players who led in several other statistical categories such as redshirt-sophomore middle blocker Chenelle Walker and sophomore outside hitter Brookah Palmer. They led the team in blocks and kills, respectively.
During her freshman year, Palmer started in all 32 matches and won All-AAC First Team honors. Walker also played in all 32 matches and had the highest attack percentage of anyone on the team.
While Platt said that Palmer will be able score points in bunches, Walker has other advantageous intangibles, like her leadership qualities, that statistics can’t measure.
Another player looking to make an impact for the Cougars is junior setter Keandra McCardell, who led the team in assists.
McCardell believes the Cougars can compete for a conference title as long as they stay consistent throughout the year.
“Last season, we started out really strong and then as the season started to go we kind of fell off a little bit,” McCardell said. “We started to play with teams instead of dominating them like how we did in the beginning.”
Whether the Cougars will move up to the next tier in the conference remains to be seen. For the time being, however, Platt and company are starting out with a new canvas that they will gradually turn into a masterpiece.
“Really, it’s as simple as we’re trying to get better every single day and for them to grow as people and teammates and players,” Platt said. “That’s the foundation of what we’re trying to do.”