The University volleyball team’s 2022 season looks to be an equal mix of the new and the familiar, starting with head coach Greg Lusk, who will step into the leadership role after several years as a UHS assistant coach. Add in that there are just three returning starters, and only two seniors, certainly not a typical roster for the usually senior-laden Hawks. Yet most of the underclassmen played together this summer on a club team that faced nationally ranked competition in Orlando.
The new and the familiar, yes?
“I know the girls very well,” Lusk said. “So it’s not like we’re starting from scratch as a group, not at all. I know our strengths, and what we need to improve, and we’ve been focused sharply on those things getting ready for the season. We are definitely a younger team, but there’s still so much skill and experience here — we just need to put it together consistently. That’s where leadership from our seniors will be key.”
Lusk also plans, after an experiment last season, to return to a more-familiar serve receive rotation.
“We tried to implement a 5-1 rotation (five hitters, and one setter) last season,” he explained. “But in the end, we too often lacked the finishing hit to put away points. So we are returning to the 6-2 formation. We think it will give us more options, and basically, it puts more hitters on the court. The girls are familiar with both rotations, and I think our offense will benefit.”
Setter Lauren Brant, one of those senior leaders, is embracing her role, and especially likes the change in attitude during practices this year.
“Coach Lusk was my coach in 6th grade, so I know him very well,” she said. “He’s really friendly and positive, but he definitely has a more-serious approach to practices. We are challenging each other in game-like scenarios, like 20-20 in the fifth set, and there are consequences like running for the losing side. I think it is ramping up our intensity, and helping us learn how to communicate and trust each other during those scramble points and when the game is on the line.
“We’re trying to emphasize practicing hard, the right way, so that we can do it more consistently in tough matches,” she continued. “That’s what it takes to make it to States, and after last year (an uncharacteristic 11-9 season), we know that we all need to step up and improve. And I love getting my teammates hyped up and ready to go hard 100% of the time every time we step on the court. I’m excited to see how far we can go this year, and to set up UHS volleyball for the future.”
Sounds exactly like what a true senior setter would do.
BY MARK SCHRAF