Throughout the 2017 preseason, VolleyMob.com will be joined by guest writers from last year’s Top 25 teams as well as other award winners and All-Americans. These bloggers will give you an inside look at their teams, preseason training, team leadership and much more.
Kentucky’s Ashley Dusek, the 2016 SEC Libero of the Year and an honorable mention All-America selection, talks the lead up to match week, off-the-court fun during training camp and more in today’s entry. Dusek, an All-SEC team selection and two-time conference Defensive Player of the Week, averaged 4.78 digs per set, second most in the league. The East Bernard, Texas, native tallied double-digit dig tallies in 29 matches, including 20 or more eight times. Dusek also added 18 aces.
No. 14 Kentucky posted a 23-8 mark in 2016 en route to a third place SEC finish and NCAA second round appearance. In addition to Dusek, the Libero of the Year, UK also reutnrs reigning Freshman of the Year Leah Edmond, a third team All-America honoree. The Wildcats also have added five newcomers to their ranks, including transfer Meredith Jewell.
Kentucky, which was picked to finish second in the SEC, kicks off its 2017 campaign at home, where the Wildcats will play host to Arkansas State, Cincinnati and No. 23 Utah this weekend.
Dusek’s take on the preseason is below.
Kentucky volleyball is almost here as we enter the last week of preseason! Our preseason is going pretty well so far and I feel like we’ve been strong throughout the process. With that being said, there has been a lot of competition during our two-a-days. Two-a-days can be tough but they help us immensely. All positions are quite competitive, but in a good way, making our depth a great asset for the team.
We played an exhibition match for the first time, and it really prepared us well. It was better to see an opposing team on the other side of the net instead of our normal intersquad, Blue-White scrimmage. I felt that Craig was able to switch our lineup quite a bit in which helped us connect with the entire team and better learn each other as players. During the match, we played five sets against Western Kentucky, helping us prepare for longer matches and longer runs in the heat of Memorial Coliseum.
Training camp has been tough but we’ve had some fun as well by participating in some team bonding activities. We played in a team golf scramble early on during our two-a-days, which was awesome because we got to see our teammates’ athleticism in a sport other than volleyball. Each hole had questions we were to ask our teammates in the scramble. This was a cool way to get to know our teammates as well as our coaches and staff members on a more personal level. Our last Sunday of preseason, we got to head to the Bell’s house where they treated us to some dinner and some swimming! This was a nice day to relax after working hard in the gym the past couple of weeks.
As for the freshman, I feel they have meshed well together with the team and felt welcomed. As a senior, it can be hard for a freshman to come up to me for information. One of our goals as seniors is that we want everyone to be on the same level, senior through freshman.
As we head into match week now, we’re going to watch film of our match against WKU and practices during the preseason to help us better prepare for these upcoming games. We had a practice at both 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. to help us adjust and prepare for our opening day. I believe we’ve got most of the nerves out during the exhibition and now we’re ready to focus on the little things that need to be fixed to perfect our skills and system. We can’t wait for opening day!