The volleyball team received honors from the National Coaches’ Association with only two more weeks until the season starts.
UT Dallas was one of the 973 universities that received the honor from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. The honor focuses on the academic standing of teams. Schools nominated for the award must maintain a cumulative team GPA of at least 3.30 on a 4.0 scale. The AVCA announced the honor winners on July 17, marking the fourth time in a row that Comet’s volleyball has received the award. Earlier in the year, ten players from the team were honored by the division, including senior outside hitter Sydney Riordan.
“Our team is always looking to be the best at everything.” Riordan said. “This just proves to us that we’re doing our job right and keeping a good balance between class and the sport.”
The team received its first AVCA honor in 2006, but the team’s average GPA sat below the required mark until 2014. Head coach Marci Allison, who has been with the team since 2004, attributed this to changes in the way the team recruits new players and emphasizes their academic abilities, allowing the players to excel in both the classroom and on the court. This includes study time on the buses to away games and optional study halls to help the team stay up to date on their class work.
“Our recruiting philosophy has changed a lot over the years we’ve been going,” Allison said. “We’ve been going after highly academic students with the ability to really come through not only in the game but in their studies.”
The honor marked the end of a 2017 season that saw the team secure its third ASC championship in a row and entrance to the NCA D-III National Tournaments. With the last of the 2017 honors secured, the team has begun looking forward to the 2018 season. Though team practice didn’t begin until the week of August 13, most of the senior players had already met their teammates in preparation for the coming season.
“As upperclassmen, we reach out to the incoming freshmen and make them feel comfortable with giving them a taste of the culture and expectations, Riordan said. “This helps our team jump into training more cohesively in August.”
The team’s first scrimmage of the season is against Dallas Baptist University on August 18. Allison said the scrimmages will be preparation for the Labor Day tournament held in Richardson that will see the team go up against Wisconsin-Superior and Heidelberg.