Looking for their 15th NCAA tournament bid in 2013, the Bronco volleyball team looks to build on their NCAA tournament run from 2012. With 18 women on the roster to start pre-season, Bronco head coach Jon Wallace is excited to get the ball rolling in practice on Sat., Aug. 10.
The Broncos will have triple days the first seven days and then double days for a week before cutting back to once-a-day practices the last week prior to their first competition. The Broncos start out the 2013 season close to home in Fresno, Calif. They will begin with CSU Northridge on Aug. 30 and then play two matches vs. host-Fresno State and Rice on Aug. 31.
SantaClaraBroncos.com sat down with head coach Jon Wallace (JW), entering his 15th season, to talk about the preseason and his goals and expectations. Wallace is looking to lead the team to the 12th NCAA tournament under his leadership with the Broncos.
SCU: Triple Days! What does that consist of?
JW: Our mornings will consist of small group work. The work will be more on development, whether it be blocking, attacking, defensive systems or offensive systems. We want to be great in those areas. Our middle session will be serving and passing. Last year our serve and pass won a lot of games for us. Our last session is going to be competitive six on six. With nine new kids, it's about training technique, systems and understanding our high standards.
SCU: What are your goals for the preseason?
JW: I think it is going to be different with this set of kids. We have 18 kids - nine new kids and nine returners. For sure it is about getting our new kids up to speed and understanding our systems and our technique. With them it will be a lot of teaching and pushing them through some barriers that are going to be there mentally and emotionally. With the returners it's all about managing them, giving them enough reps that they're going to get good but not giving them too many reps where they're going to break down.
This will be a lot different camp. Looking back to last year where we kind of had to build some unity, we have unity within the nine returners; they have the technique down, they have the systems down. Looking at a player like All-WCC middle Megan Anders, who had a fantastic year in 2012 – how can she get better?
We will also take players like Megan, Haley Cameron and Taylor Milton – all who had great seasons last year, and will work to develop them into All-American level players. It's also about making the nine new kids better from the start.
I've already seen some differences in players like Haley who is a lot more comfortable with us now and can handle a bigger load than last year. That's really exciting for us. And I also think that this group is solid enough to where they can incorporate these new nine players a lot better than they could have a year ago.
I am also very excited for both Katy Schatzman and Taylor. They both had great off-seasons.
SCU: Nine newcomers – including eight coming straight from high school and really good club programs! What are the differences from high school volleyball practice to the collegiate level? What will be the differences for the returning letterwinners?
JW: I think it's going to be a shock to their system – the new players - physically but more mentally, trying to get them to understand the game. Learn the game, learn how to practice, how to be a good teammate, learn how to be leaders. I think the demand on them mentally is going to be great, probably more than they've ever had before and they will really be asked to produce pretty early on.
For the returners, it is about getting deeper and deeper into our systems and simplifying our responsibilities. The goal is to get them to focus on the one or two things that we need them to focus on.
SCU: With so many tough practices in the next couple of weeks, what is the carrot in front of the team?
JW: The fun part will be being around our great staff! No really - we have some really fun events planned when we go to Hawaii. We plan on doing an excursion when we get there to the North Shore. I want the kids to jump off the rock at Waimea Bay. We will then play some really tough competition at Hawaii. Sunday, before we leave, the goal is to get everybody up on a surfboard.
We're going to grind pretty hard between now and that trip. When we return we only have a few more matches until West Coast Conference play begins. I feel like that our Hawaii trip will solidify us going into conference.
SCU: Your staff includes assistant coaches Matt Lyles and Aaron Mansfield. You have been together for more than a year now. What will you do as a coaching staff to get better?
JW: We're all going to be sitting down and planning practices, we're all going to be working with the kids. We're a lot more organized and into our systems than we were a year ago. Aaron has now been in here for a year now, Matt's been back here a year and a half. Going into this season, we are very solid in what we want to teach as well as keeping the girls accountable to what we want to teach every day.
SCU: Finally, do you have a motto for this year or a list of things that are the Bronco way?
JW: We like for that to develop organically, especially through the triple days, especially with a group of nine returning and nine new, it's going to be a very different feel in the gym from day one and we feel that our chemistry will develop through the leadership of our strong senior class.
It's going to be a really good mix this year. With nine returners who have made it into the NCAA tournament, beating the No. 1 and No. 2 team in our conference last year, they have the knowledge, experience and the talent to make a big impact in our conference and on a national level. Bringing in nine new kids and we don't know how they are going to respond, I do believe from our camp that we are going to have three or four from our camp step up and surprise us. That would be great for the team and will give us a different look going into the season.
We're hoping that our freshmen come in and just play and that the older girls have everything mapped out. We have established a way we want to play and a way we want to be and keep it all focused on volleyball and getting better every day.