Currently in the second week of volleyball team practice, the Sacramento State media relations office had a chance to sit down with fifth-year head coach Ruben Volta and ask him a series of questions. Below are some excerpts from the interview. The team begins the 2012 season next Friday, Aug. 24, in South Carolina against the College of Charleston.
Q: First off, how is summer camp going thus far, and have you been pleased with the team's performance?
A: Summer camp is going well, and I really like our depth this year. We have plenty of bodies at every position, and the players have come into camp in very good condition. The newcomers are adjusting and showing big signs of improvement already. In addition, I've been pleased with the returners, and they've carried over a well-played spring into the summer.
Q: You lost three starters (two middle blockers, one outside hitter) and the libero from a year ago. Who replaces their contributions in the lineup this season?
A: Sydney Kordic is going to start the year at libero. She has a lot of experience, and has played at defensive specialist the last three years. Sydney really understand our system, is an excellent defender and probably the best server in the Big Sky. Jessie Genger was so versatile for us last year in that she could play on the left and right side. This year, she will play much more on the left, and has looked very good this summer and going back to last spring. We have a good competition right now between Chelcy Motes, Olivia Moss and Ashley Newcomb for the two starting middle spots. Regardless of who we start, we will likely use all three players throughout the year. They bring more size than our middle blockers from a year ago, so I think we could block even better than we did last season (after finishing 13th in the nation in blocks per set).
Q: Fourth-year senior Janelle Currey enters her final season with the team. She has already surpassed the 1,000 kills/1,000 digs plateau, has a 4.0 grade point average and you've named her a team co-captain. Talk about what she has meant to the program both on and off the floor.
A: Janelle is a pretty amazing player. She does a lot for the team that I don't think the casual fan notices. She is in serve receive every rotation, is an excellent passer, a tremendous defender and probably the most underrated blocker in the Big Sky Conference. She knows the game so well and does so much for the team. Janelle will be a tough player to replace down the road. She is extremely competitive and works so hard, and that mentality rubs off on her teammates because they see how serious she takes the game and how hard she works.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the style of play you will showcase to Hornets fans this fall?
A: We will be the same type of team with our good ball control, defense and serving. I hope to get more out our offense this season. We will be running a 6-2 offense, and with the addition of our new players and how well they are playing, we have options to move some people around. I feel like we will be a better offensive team that previous years.
Q: The Big Sky added Southern Utah and North Dakota this year, giving the league 11 teams and expanding the postseason conference tournament to six teams. Talk about what you expect to see in league play this year.
A: The league is going to be very challenging. Most of the teams in the conference return a good majority of their players. In fact, I think we were one of the teams that lost the most starters. The returning conference members will all be tough, and the addition of both North Dakota and Southern Utah will strengthen the league even more.
Q: Defense and passing have been a longtime staples of Sacramento State volleyball. Last year, you were the only team in the nation to rank among the top 35 squads in both digs (9th) and blocks (13th) per set. Is that a trend you see continuing in 2012?
A: We were also a very good serving team last year (43rd in the nation in aces per set). Traditionally we have been a solid defensive team, and over the last five years, we've become very good at blocking. In my opinion, we are also the toughest serving team in the conference, and I think that really helps feed our blocking and our defense.
Q: What are some of the keys to success for this year's squad?
A: We led in almost every defensive and serving category in the conference. Essentially, if we improve our offense, I think we will surprise some teams.
Q: You've spent 17 years on this campus as either a Sacramento State player or coach. What has attracted you to the program to show that type of loyalty?
A: There is definitely some loyalty to the campus as an alumnus. Becoming a part of the program, I've leaned a lot from (former Hornet head coach) Debby Colberg and she has helped me immensely. She has been a mentor, and I talk to her on a regular basis. Obviously, the program has been extremely successful over the years, and I like the challenge of getting us back to that level. I really like it here.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories as a coach?
A: I have several fond memories. Going back to my time as an assistant, I really enjoyed beating Eastern Washington on their home floor three straight years (2002-04) in the Big Sky Tournament championship match. Those were all special because of the big rivalry between the two schools. Going to the NCAA Tournament and beating a Big Ten team in Minnesota in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament was also a big moment. I also particularly enjoyed making the 2008 Big Sky Tournament after losing five starters and the libero from the previous season.
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November 19, 2012 MONTANA STATE BEATS MONTANA; VOLLEYBALL ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFFS
November 16, 2012 VOLLEYBALL SIGNS MORGAN STANLEY AND COURTNEY DIETRICH
November 10, 2012 WITH BACKS AGAINST THE WALL, VOLLEYBALL POSTS HUGE WIN AT WEBER STATE
November 3, 2012 VOLLEYBALL FALLS AT HOME IN FOUR SETS TO NORTH DAKOTA
November 1, 2012 NORTHERN COLORADO STORMS BACK, KNOCKS OFF VOLLEYBALL IN FIVE SETS
October 25, 2012 BEAL AND GENGER LEAD VOLLEYBALL TO THREE-SET SWEEP OF SOUTHERN UTAH
October 22, 2012 VOLLEYBALL COMPLETES LONG ROAD TRIP WITH LOSS AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
October 20, 2012 VOLLEYBALL DROPS FOUR-SET MATCH AT PORTLAND STATE
October 16, 2012 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN THREE SETS AT SANTA CLARA
October 13, 2012 VOLLEYBALL TURNS BACK SIX SET POINTS, BEATS MONTANA STATE IN FOUR
October 12, 2012 VOLLEYBALL LETS FOURTH-SET LEAD SLIP AWAY IN 3-1 LOSS AT MONTANA
October 5, 2012 VOLLEYBALL RETURNS HOME, BUT FALLS IN FIVE TO IDAHO STATE
September 29, 2012 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN FIRST-EVER TRIP TO NORTH DAKOTA
September 27, 2012 VOLLEYBALL FINDS IT TOUGH IN GREELEY AGAIN, FALLS AT NORTHERN COLORADO
September 22, 2012 VOLLEYBALL DROPS ROAD MATCH TO SOUTHERN UTAH
September 20, 2012 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN FOUR TO NORTHERN ARIZONA
September 18, 2012 VOLLEYBALL ENTERS SECOND WEEK OF LEAGUE PLAY, BEGINS A FOUR-GAME ROAD TRIP
September 13, 2012 VOLLEYBALL OPENS CONFERENCE PLAY WITH SWEEP OF EASTERN WASHINGTON
September 12, 2012 VOLLEYBALL OPENS BIG SKY CONFERENCE PLAY THIS WEEK AT HOME
September 11, 2012 FREE ADMITTANCE TO SATURDAY'S VOLLEYBALL MATCH WITH FOOTBALL TICKET STUB
September 8, 2012 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN THREE TO UTAH VALLEY
September 8, 2012 VOLLEYBALL TAKES THE FIRST SET, BUT FALLS IN FOUR TO UC DAVIS
September 7, 2012 VOLLEYBALL OVERCOMES 13-8 FIFTH-SET DEFICIT, KNOCKS OFF FRESNO STATE
August 25, 2012 VOLLEYBALL HITS OVER .400 IN THREE-SET SWEEP OF JACKSONVILLE
August 25, 2012 LATE COMEBACK BID FALLS SHORT IN VOLLEYBALL’S LOSS TO NC STATE
August 24, 2012 VOLLEYBALL OPENS SEASON WITH 3-1 LOSS TO COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
August 23, 2012 VOLLEYBALL OPENS SEASON TOMORROW IN SOUTH CAROLINA
August 22, 2012 2012 VOLLEYBALL WALLPAPER IMAGES NOW AVAILABLE
August 20, 2012 2012 VOLLEYBALL MEDIA GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE
August 16, 2012 Q&A WITH HEAD VOLLEYBALL COACH RUBEN VOLTA
August 10, 2012 2012 VOLLEYBALL SEASON OUTLOOK