Senior outside hitter expects Sooners to pick up right where they left off last season.
NORMAN, Okla. --
After losing five seniors who all earned All-Big 12 recognition last year, it may be tempting to write the OU volleyball team off heading into the fall. Sarah Weiland, however, is confident the 2007 edition of the Sooners will pick up right where they left off last season, one that ended with a NCAA Sweet 16 appearance and No. 12 national ranking.
A senior from Round Rock, Texas, and one of two returning starters, Weiland will be one of the team's primary offensive weapons as the team reloads for another successful campaign. But despite being one of the team's go-to players, Weiland is not the type of person who seeks out the spotlight. The consummate teammate, she leads by example, possessing an unmatched work ethic and constantly crediting her teammates and coaches for the team's success.
We caught up with Sarah last week during OU's summer volleyball camps, where during the course of this interview she was busy signing autographs for admiring fans true to her natural form - that of a role model.
On being part of perhaps the best team in program history last season:
"It was amazing. We worked really hard every single day to get to where we got. We had really good team chemistry last year. We all got along and I think that had a lot to do with our success. Santiago pushes us every day and I think we got better with every practice."
On what it's going to take to replace last year's senior class and continue last season's success:
"We're not really changing much. We're doing the same things we were doing last year. We're working hard every day in the weight room and in the gym and just keeping our team chemistry alive."
On how she expects her own role to change, being one of the team's primary offensive weapons:
"Everybody has their own role on the team. There's not one person who is ahead of anybody else. It's important to keep everybody else accountable for everything we do. I'm just working as hard as everybody else does every day."
On what she has been trying to bring to the team in terms of leadership:
"We had really good captains and leaders last year. Joanna (Schmitt) and Rachel (Jackson) did a great job and set a good example for what I need to do. Everybody wants to be a leader on the team and everybody should be. I just want to do my part to set an example for the incoming freshmen, and the returners as well."
On what it means to her to work the summer volleyball camps and be a role model for young people:
"I absolutely love it. I love working with kids. I see improvements in every camp that I work from every kid. I think it's awesome that they look up to us so much. They think it's so cool that we're on the posters and everything like that. I think it's important for them to work hard because they can get to this level someday as well."
On how the tragedy of Hurrican Katrina affected her personally, having attended Tulane University in 2004:
"It was pretty hard for me to hear the news. I had a lot of close friends at Tulane and still do. One of my friends even stayed with me when they got evacuated. It really hit me because I was part of New Orleans for a year. The city is great and it was a tragedy to hear about everything that happened and see it on the news, knowing I was there just a few months prior to it happening."
Being from Round Rock, Texas, on what it's like to now be playing for the rival:
"I get comments every time I'm home. I'm almost afraid to wear my OU gear around Texas anywhere, but it's fun. I like the rivalry. A lot of my family went to Texas, so it's always fun.
On her excitement for the upcoming season:
"I'm really excited. We have a completely new team. We lost five seniors but I know everybody is going to be working just as hard. Two-a-days are tough but we get a lot accomplished every time. I'm really excited to see where the season goes."