Sports Volleyball

Roundtable Q&A: Freshman provide new outlook for volleyball team

Freshmen Kendal Haywood(left) leads the volleyball team in blocks and is third in kills. | Courtesy of Steven Pinchback, UH Athletics

The Cougars’ volleyball team is off to its best start in years with a 8-0 record so far, largely due to help from some of the team’s newest editions.

The Cougar spoke with freshmen Kelsey Childers, Jordan Lockwood, Kendal Haywood and Alexis Cheatum about new experiences, goals for the season and what it has been like joining the team.

The Cougar: What was it like playing in your first college volleyball game?

Childers: “It’s been something that I have dreamed of a long time, so for it to actually be a reality now is very cool, and something I don’t want to take for granted. It’s fun competing with all my friends, we’re all like sisters. It’s definitely a lot different than high school and club, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Lockwood: “It wasn’t as intimidating as I thought — because you always sit at home and watch college volleyball, and its really fast and intimidating. They didn’t scare me as much as I thought they would.”

Haywood: “For me, I was nervous at first and then once I started playing, I kind of let it go and realized I was playing with my friends and just had fun with it.”

Cheatum: “I think there’s a lot of adrenaline. Then whenever you get into the game and just relax, the adrenaline turns into positive excitement.”

TC: How long have you been playing volleyball and how did you get into it?

Childers: “I have been playing volleyball since I was 10, and I got into it because my older sister played volleyball throughout her life, in high school and club, and played competitively, and I had always looked up to her as a role model.”

Lockwood: “I’ve been playing volleyball since I was in seventh grade, and I started because I have two sisters who also play, and me and my older sister are extremely competitive, so I always felt like I had to be better than her.”

Haywood: “I started playing volleyball when I was 11, and the reason why I started playing was I was the only one in the family who wasn’t playing sports. So my mom was like ‘why don’t you try volleyball?’ and so I just stuck with it. My mom pushed me to play.”

Cheatum: “I’ve been playing volleyball since I was 12, and I got into it because I was bored at home and my friend invited me out to a camp.”

TC: How have you enjoyed your first few weeks at UH?

Childers: “It was not as hard of a transition as I thought it would be. And you can really tell that all the students and professors and staff and everyone here is a big family, which I really like a lot. Everyone is just involved with everything, which is awesome.”

Lockwood: “I really relied on movies for my first idea of college, and when I got here, it was nothing like I thought. But the athletics program is a lot different than regular students.”

Haywood: “I’m like 45 minutes away, but it’s still a little tough, because I’m not at home. It took me a little bit to adjust. Like I can’t go home with my parents, I have to stay. I think I’m getting used to it more and more, hanging out with the volleyball team and having a busy schedule, I don’t really think about not being at home.”

Cheatum: “I have been loving it so far. The team really made it an easy transition.”

TC: Who is someone you look up to on the team and why?

Childers: “I definitely look up to Abby Irvine. She’s very positive on and off the court, and she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. Every time I play with her, it just drives me to be better.”

Lockwood: “I look up to Chenelle Walker, because somehow she finds the time to manage a bunch of different things at once. She’s a part of a bunch of different organizations, she knows a bunch of people, and after my four years here, I would like to be a Chenelle Walker.”

Haywood: “I look up to Katie Karbo because she never lets a ball hit the floor and she’s always going 110 percent, and I can always trust her to have my back on and off the court.”

Cheatum: “Someone I look up to on the team is Abby Giles, because her heart is tremendous and her work ethic is unmatched.”

TC: Which game are you most excited for this season?

Childers: “I am most excited for Wichita State, because they are a very high level team, but I feel like we have so much drive and passion this year that we’re all ready to play against them and see what we can do against them.”

Lockwood: “I am most excited for the Tulsa game. I know a lot of people on that team, which serves as really good motivation because they’ve always been older than me and on a better team.”

Haywood: “I also look forward to Wichita State. I feel like we’re the underdogs right now and they went undefeated last season. It would be really good motivation.”

Cheatum: “I’m really excited for the SMU game because we are big rivals. We need to show them who runs Texas in the American Athletic Conference.”

TC: Biggest goal you have this season?

Childers: “To go undefeated at home and to win conference, and to make it to post season.”

Lockwood: “Break the freshman stereotype of not playing, and earn a starting position.”

Haywood: “My biggest goal is definitely going to the NCAA Tournament. And put Houston volleyball on the map.”

Lockwood: “Earn a starting spot and be conference champs.”

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