NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three days into camp, it may be expected for a team to still be in the initial stages of getting to know each other with a small amount of awkwardness in the air, but that’s not the case with the Tennessee State University volleyball team.
“For only three days into practice we have great chemistry,” head coach Kathy Roulhac said. “The players we have brought in are meshing really well with the returners and that’s due to the great leadership on our team. That’s something we didn’t have last year but are blessed with this season.”
Fellow seniors Naomi Wells and Taylor Swayzer have emerged as team leaders. Both were key players on the team last season and look to factor prominently in 2014. Along with returners such as senior Ileanushka Maldonado and sophomore Arijana Anderson, they have served as catalysts to team communication during drills and driven the intensity up a notch.
Much of the team’s effort has been concentrated on defense in the early days of camp. The Tigers are seeking to improve on their .214 attack percentage allowed from the 2013 season.
“We’ve brought in a lot of strong players, defensively,” coach Rulhac said. “That’s always been a weakness for us. Offensively, we are strong, that shouldn’t be a problem. Right now we are really focusing on defense.”
TSU returns two of its top three defenders, including Maldonado who had 3.80 digs per set and Wells who had 48 blocks. Combining them with newcomers such as freshman Ariel Manuel and transfer junior Madison Halterman will help to rebuild the defense.