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.
North Carolina outside hitter Taylor Leath, an AVCA Second Team All-American and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Player of the Year, joins us to share about mental preparation, the ins and outs of picture day and the tedious fundamental drills that highlight preseason workouts.
Leath racked up three National Player of the Week accolades and three ACC Player of the Week nods in 2016. She posted 3.20 kills per set, while hitting at a .252 clip and averaging 2.56 digs per set. The redshirt junior tallied 10 double-doubles, including three 20-kill efforts and one 20-dig performance.
North Carolina returns 11 members of the 29-4 team, which won the ACC title en route to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2016. That group includes Leath as well as honorable mention All-American and ACC Freshman of the Year Julia Scoles. Middle blocker/opposite Taylor Fricano also was named to this year’s Preseason All-ACC listing as UNC was picked to win the ACC title for the third straight year. The team also brought in three freshmen and one transfer for the 2017 campaign.
The Tar Heels have a stacked slate in 2017, including top 10 foes in No. 4 Minnesota and No. 7 Wisconsin at the season opening ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Leath’s inside look at the Tar Heels preseason is below.
Hi Tar Heels!
Your 2017 squad has been hard at work! This summer we added four newcomers that all add great personality, spirit and a willingness to learn.
Report day was August 7. As usual we had our annual screenings, meetings and introductions. One thing that we do every year on report day is state our goals for the season along with the steps we intend on taking to get there.
The next day was picture day! Every year since I have been at Carolina it has either been raining or crazy humid (which is expected in the South) and this year wasn’t any different. We braved the weather and ended up getting a few good pictures to post in the entrance of the one-of-a-kind Carmichael Arena. Then, we headed in for our first day of practice.
During preseason, fundamentals are one of the most important topics and areas of practice. Though it might seem tedious from time to time, I will say for all the young girls out there, we toss and pass and serve from 10 foot line to 10 foot line pretty often. So don’t knock it!
We had a great opportunity to be able to work with Humanex this preseason and learn about how to better understand and embrace our individual roles on the team. Training at Carolina is not exclusively about the body and skills on the volleyball court. Training at Carolina includes the mental aspects of the game as well.
Being a redshirt junior and the captain of this team is an amazing opportunity and I am incredibly excited! These girls are amazing and I wouldn’t want to lead any other group in the world.
We are excited to open the season in just under two weeks and I am confident that we will see some Carolina blue in the stands!