Posted: Aug 9, 2012 9:27 PM by UL Sports Information
The Ragin' Cajuns volleyball team completed its first full day of preseason camp on Thursday, the first steps toward the opening of the 2012 season. Head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot and her squad spent close to three hours on the practice court during both the morning and afternoon sessions at Bourgeois Hall.
Mazeitis-Fontenot welcomed her squad - which features 10 returning letterwinners - back to campus on Wednesday and ran the initial training camp practice late last night.
Louisiana has right at two weeks worth of practice before stepping on to the court against Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas for the season opener on Friday, Aug. 24. Mazeitis-Fontenot and staff have 24 more practice units before the first serve against SHSU.
"Practice has been great so far. We've been able to pick up were we left off from the spring season," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "What I observed last night felt like the fifth day of practice, when comparing to past preseasons.
"In one day we were able to install our offense and defense. What's helped is that our freshmen have progressed quickly because they're a very talented group. It's been a really good day."
The Cajuns 2012 roster is bolstered by the return of six players who all saw significant time as a starter last season - seniors Mandi Gavin (setter) and Blair Claypoole (middle blocker), juniors Taylor Meade (libero/outside hitter), Lavinia Tatran (outside hitter) and Tonice White (middle blocker), plus sophomore Caitlyn Auxilien (defensive specialist/libero).
All six players saw action in 80-plus sets a year ago, with the quartet of Auxilien, Gavin, Meade and White topping 100 sets. Gavin is back for her third year as starting setter while Meade returns as the Sun Belt Conference's top server with 48 aces last year.
The Cajuns incoming class is highlighted by New Zealand native Katie Adamson and Estonia native Maret Randpold which increases the number of international players on the roster to four (Norway's Andea Hole and Romania's Lavinia Tatran). Adamson played for the New Zealand U19 junior woman's team that competed in the USA high performance championships in Tucson, Ariz., last year. Randpold was a member of the Estonian national team.
"We need to make sure that our consistency is present at all times, as that was one of the things we struggled with last year," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "We went for it all on every point and were super aggressive, but in doing that we made a lot of errors.
"Right now we're just preaching consistency...we can stay aggressive, but we need to be consistent on our serves, consistent with our attacking and consistently be in good position on defense. That will be key for us. I feel we have the ability to do really nice things and we can reach that potential by staying consistent."
Due to construction at the Student Union on main campus relocating university functions to Earl K. Long Gym, the Cajuns will practice at Bourgeois Hall through Friday, August 17.
UL starts the season at the Sam Houston Invitational Aug. 24-25 and travels to Jackson State on Aug. 28 before opening the home slate Labor Day weekend with the Bon Temps Invitational (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) at Earl K. Long Gym.