One of the strongest teams in the American Southwest Conference, the UTD volleyball team holds eight conference titles and is set for more success this year.
The roster is made of 20 members, led by head coach Zach Villarreal and assistant coach Kaylie McHughs. They train diligently before the season even starts, practicing for two hours every morning and running different drills and plays to prepare for the year. This season started off unexpectedly, with the Comets losing to steep competition at the Trinity National Invitational and the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational. With four students graduating last year, the Comets are still incorporating the incoming freshman into the team rotation and rebuilding team culture. Since the start of the season, the team has bounced back from some of their losses, scoring wins against Hardin-Simmons University, McMurry University and Le Tourneau University. They expect to win more matches going forward and hopefully make it back to conference finals.
“We are in a good spot now; we are on the up,” neuroscience senior Izzy Sundquist said. “Starting to find things that are working, and hitting our strides at just the right moments.”
The new additions to the team are still getting used to team dynamics and their roles on the court. Healthcare studies freshman Avery Pickard is new to the team and said she is enjoying every second of it. In practice, they work on mistakes they made in matches, with a special focus on giving freshmen more opportunities to shine. Pickard said they came to UTD because of the amazing team culture, and they hope they can make valuable memories here.
“We all love one another, we love spending time with one another, and we are all super dedicated to the team [. . .] We are super encouraging to one another,” Pickard said. “Each person really wants the person next to them to succeed.”
Their next home game is Oct. 20 against Howard Payne University. While there is a focus on winning, the sport doesn’t just encompass talent, it also is a symbol of the collective bond between reliable teammates. The team leaves members with lasting memories and close friendships they will cherish throughout their life.
“Last year we won our [conference tournament] we swept ETBU in the finals,” Sundquist said.
“After we won our final point, our team did a dogpile on the court, and then our student section came and rushed onto the court. It was a super fun experience, all of our hard work has finally paid off in that moment [. . .] That has got to be my top memory with our team.”