Welcome Back, Volleyball!!
GREENSBORO – Booms of giggles, cheer, and excitement from 14 young ladies that will represent the North Carolina A&T volleyball team during the 2014 season filled the confines of Moore Gymnasium as the team reported for its first day of camp on Monday, Aug. 11.
“Camp is always exciting,” said head coach Hal Clifton. “We haven’t seen each other since the end of the semester, and we haven’t played since the end of April. They’re excited to get back in the gym and play the game that they love so much.”
It has been months since most of the team has seen one another with their hometowns ranging from places like Canada, Hawaii, Indiana, California, Illinois, Georgia, and Texas. But the close-knit group had no problem getting reacquainted both on and off the court.
“You should have seen us when we all got back to campus, everyone was screaming and jumping around,” explained junior libero Ashley Johnson. “People had to tell us to lower our voices but we’re just excited and it’s always great to see your teammates after a break.”
Some of the Aggies spent their summer bonding with their families while others attended summer school or worked. Junior outside hitter Aleena McDaniel spent her summer working as an intern for eight weeks in a biology lab where she did research at Indiana University. Along with academics, McDaniel made time for volleyball with workouts, lifting, and attending open gym sessions with some of her former teammates.
“I really want to use camp to work on my footwork and to make sure that I’m staying quick,” McDaniel said. “I want to continue getting stronger at the net. I worked on that over the summer, and I hope it shows during camp.”
“In camp I want to focus on the chemistry with all the players,” said Johnson. “I want to make sure that we all work together and help the freshmen ease into the program.”
Johnson and McDaniel, who were named team captains for the upcoming year, want to make sure the newcomers get into the swing of things and maintain team unity.
The Aggies opened practice with a warm-up and several drills before starting their doubles tournament, which was an all-out battle where they competed and some upperclassmen got an opportunity to play alongside a newcomer. A&T will open the season August 29 in the Indiana State University Tournament agaisnt Chicago State at 9 a.m.
“We’re trying to figure out who is going to start,” Clifton said. “Camp is going to show who is ready and who retained information from the spring. Everyone is going to be fighting for a spot. We have depth at all the positions. We’re just going to evaluate them daily and see who is ready to go on August 29 against Chicago State.”