OU outside hitter Keri Coats will take Sooner fans behind the scenes as Oklahoma plays its 2003 volleyball schedule. This is the third installment of her weekly journal. We've also added a link so you can submit your own questions for Keri to respond to in her next entry.
During the last couple weeks the Sooner volleyball team has faced a lot of adversity. We lost a couple of matches and in the process lost two of our top players to injury.
Losing freshman Laura Tomes for the whole season (torn ACL) is really difficult. She was having a wonderful freshman season. She brought a stabilizing force to our frontline. She was impressive to everyone on the team and played at a very high level.
To make matters worse, Jen Adams rolled her ankle against Kansas. She was another player having a great statistical year. Jen was a huge part of how we planned to rebound from Laura’s injury, but now we have to come up with a new game plan.
The good thing is that we have a team filled with versatile athletes who are able to fill holes. I know a lot of people are being asked to play a lot of different positions, but if we settle down and come together, we’ll be fine.
I am one of the players who has been asked to change positions. To me it’s kind of a compliment. I feel like I am talented enough to adjust and the coaches have shown they believe in me as well. I have moved to middle blocker, a position I haven’t played since high school. I am more comfortable at right side hitter but I should get more swings at middle, which is exciting.
I feel like the team turned a corner against Texas A&M. We were on the verge of upsetting the No. 22 team in the country. We had a record crowd on hand (3,162) and they were a major motivation. Our new lineup finally gelled and the team is realizing that we can play with anyone in the conference, despite losing two starters. We have enough talent that we can reshuffle and still be just as effective.
Well... on to a few questions.
I’m currently playing middle blocker in high school and I’m looking to play college volleyball but I’m 5-9. I’m concerned about my height. I wonder if I should try and play other positions like libero?
Samantha from Katy, Texas
I’ve seen a lot of 5-9 middle blockers that are very good. We just played at Colorado and their middle, Monique Gerlach, is about the same height. She is a great player and has been named to the All-Big 12 Team a couple times. Don’t give up on being a middle blocker because of your height. You will have to work harder but your height isn’t a disadvantage.
If you want to try something new to balance out your game, I say go for it. The middle to libero transition is difficult, but not impossible if that’s where your interests are. It will make you a more well-rounded volleyball player, which is appealing to any team. It’s always important to be a complete player and excel at all of the skills.
I’m a setter for my junior-varsity team and I am wondering what summer camp would benefit me most?
Kate from Bartlesville, Oklahoma
In general, with any university hosted camp, I would recommend the hitter-setter camp. At this camp the coaches focus specifically on setting. Most likely you will work on a one-to-one basis with a coach and/or the setters for the school’s team.
The biggest advantage to a setter is that you get the expert advice and training, as well as time to work with hitters that have a variety of different talents. Setters need to be able to assist all types of players and camps will provide this learning experience.
What is the biggest advantage of being 6-4 in volleyball? What is the biggest disadvantage?
Joe from Pendleton, Oregon
The best thing about being tall is that if I get faked out on a play and I can’t put a solid block up, I am still tall enough to reach over the net and make plays. Plus I always have the ability to hit over the top of people because I’m taller.
The biggest disadvantage is playing in the back row. It’s tough to get low and dig the ball at my height.
Before I go, I wanted to thank all 3,000 or so fans that showed up to our match on Friday night. That was a great environment to compete in and something the entire team appreciated. Thanks for the good questions and I will check in again next week. Go SOONERS!