Tallahassee, FL - Walking into Tully Gymnasium this week you'll hear the blaring sound of machinery cutting through the bleachers and around the gym floor in an effort to remodel the historic building. But what's even more piercing, beyond the construction, are the screams from the FSU Volleyball team, sweating and working to prepare for the upcoming season.
The first day of practice officially bump, set and spiked its way to the 2011 season on Tuesday.
"The thing that really stood out is that we look in much better shape this year than we did last year," FSU Volleyball Head Coach Chris Poole said. "We've got some players who've really worked hard in the past nine months to get ready."
"From last year, we've definitely stepped up a little bit," FSU Senior Outside Hitter Rachael Morgan said. "Even the new girls have come in and we only have two new girls, so all the old girls that have stayed kind of know that they need to step up, as well. So, overall, its been really positive."
The Lady Seminoles are practicing twice a day until the start of school, once in the morning and another session in the afternoon.
"Right now we're trying to get our offense smoothed out," Poole said. "We're not as experience in the middle as we wanted to be last year. We're trying to really add that middle attack. We're really good on each of the antennas. So, if we can build that strength up and add the middle, I think it's gonna help us."
They open the season with a home tournament against tough non-conference foe Kentucky on August 26th. And right after that, they get Florida on the road, who eliminated them from the NCAA tournament in the second round last year in a tight 3-2 match.
"We're using that as motivation a lot from the NCAA tournament," Poole said. "Because, remember, anytime you lose a match, where literally you've got two match points, any play during the game could've made the difference. And that's what we're really trying to share with them right now. The play you don't go after the ball or the play you check out and don't go up and block, that can make the difference in winning and losing. And I think if you have a match like that to go back to, that really helps the motivation."
"Everytime we let a ball go, coach will be like 'there's that one point that you lost by.' So, right now, it's our motivation to get back and be stronger as a team," Morgan said.
Only two players graduated from last year's roster and they add just one freshman.
FSU will have three televised game this season: at home against Miami, away at North Carolina State and away at Clemson.