Ann Jitcho
Mercury Staff

Coach feels 'extremely proud of the team' amidst team composition changes, busy season

The UTD volleyball team won its sixth straight American Southwest Conference East Division title at the second ASC Crossover Tournament of the season.

The team kicked off the first of two ASC crossover tournaments with a Sept. 27 game against Sul Ross State, which the Comets won 3-0. Throughout the season, the Comets have been able to build up to a 13-game winning streak, which was broken by a loss of 3-2 to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the opening game of the second ASC Crossover Tournament held in Austin, Texas from Oct. 18-19. The Comets got 69 kills and five aces, but ultimately fell to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the last three sets as their hits fell from .552 in the first set to -.150 in the fourth. Senior hitter Alyssa Porter led in kills and blocks, with 15 and six, respectively.

With two more 3-0 victories against Concordia Texas and Howard Payne at the October tournament, the team secured the ASC East Title. The underclassmen, who make up a majority of the team, showed out at the last two games. Sophomore blockers Allison Owen and Gabi Sommerfield each got 10 kills in the match against Concordia while freshman hitter Abby Jones got 13 digs against Howard Payne.

“I’m extremely proud of the team,” Head Coach Marci Allison said. “We’ve had a lot of changes and our freshman have really stepped up and our returners are doing a good job of leading them and setting the culture of our program.”

Since the second ASC Crossover tournament, the team has played a non-conference regional match against Austin College which they won 3-0 with only 4 errors in the match. They followed with a 3-0 conference win against LeTourneau on Oct. 25, bringing their overall record to 20-4 and upping their conference record to 12-1.

Caroline Shecterle, the team’s senior setter and defensive specialist hit a season high with 37 assists against Mary Hardin-Baylor and was named ASC East Division Volleyball Player of the Week for the forth time on Oct. 22. Schecterle said that the team’s main focus right now is to take each game one at a time throughout the season.

“Every game is important,” Shecterle said. “Every game is an opportunity for us to get better.”

Allison said that with the demands of a busy season and the academic rigor of coursework, the team constantly faces difficulties in preparing for their games.

“Any time you are a student-athlete at UT Dallas, it is challenging,” Allison said. “Plus it’s midterm time … it is getting down to that point of the semester where grades are coming out … the biggest challenge is balancing school and volleyball.”

Senior middle blocker Lauren Schilling said that the limited number of players is also a challenge for the team.

“We only have 14 people,” Schilling said. “So, if someone gets injured or someone’s just having a rougher day, we have fewer options.”

Schilling said that the team’s main strategy for the championships is to analyze the opposing team and their tendencies.

“We’re focused on executing the things that we know we can do and discerning things we know that (the opposing team) likes to implement,” she said.

The team’s schedule of three to four games per week poses many challenges, Shecterle said, as the players constantly have to practice and travel. Despite these challenges, the team has a conference percentage of .923 and previously held a 13-game winning streak.

“It’s just getting through those mental challenges,” she said. “We practice really early in the morning and we’ve got school going on, so the biggest challenge is separating volleyball from everything else. But I think our team is really supportive … We do a really good job of working hard for each other every day.”