The University of Virginia’s College at Wise women’s volleyball team, led by second-year Head Coach Kristen Salyer, made the debut performance for all Highland Cavalier sports as an NCAA and Mountain East Conference member Thursday at Brevard College. Following a disappointing 7-25 overall record in her first year, Salyer sees light in the future as nine freshmen join the lady Cavs this season.
“I’m excited, they’re great,” Salyer said in a preseason interview. “They’re energetic and they’re ready to go. I think this is the most energy we’ve ever had at the beginning of the year…I think they’ll be great for our program and for the school.”
Only five returners will hit the floor this fall with junior Allison Ring sidelined for the majority of the season. Salyer has already seen leadership from her veterans and cohesion amongst the team.
“Because of them and their leadership, [the] freshmen have kind of just jumped on board,” Salyer said. “These freshmen are competitors. I’m not worried about them getting on the court and freezing.”
At the net, Salyer will look to returning sophomore Maya Hamlett teamed with freshmen Karley Allen, Santana Bishop and Lindsey Tucker to make a difference. Junior Veronica Sanchez will return as setter. Salyer said she will experiment early in the season with her lineup to find the best chemistry on the court. Chemistry, Salyer said, will be key for this season’s success along with following the team’s new motto, “Be relentless.”
“This year we want to keep from getting frustrated, stay positive, and bring the energy on the court all of the time,” said junior captain Brittni Altmann. “There are no moments to take breaks or be lazy or get aggravated with the situation at hand. Everything is about moving forward. We’re constantly moving forward.”
Moving forward is an appropriate action as the team enters a new league, new conference, and new year with a majority of freshmen. Altmann said she sees it as a fresh start and wants students to know if they come out to watch they are going to see a difference on the floor.
“Don’t let the past influence whether you’re coming out or not because it is going to be different. It’s already different,” she said.
The women’s volleyball team will continue their opening six-game road stretch at The University of Pikeville Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. They begin home play Sept. 17 against Bluefield College at 6:30 p.m.
The score for last night’s opener against Brevard College can be found online at uvawisecavs.com.