HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Normally when teams convene for the first time in preseason, the coach is the one doing the major speeches. When the Coker women's volleyball team opened its practice this year, it was not the head coach that was doing much of the talking – it was the players.
"The team came to me and told me what they wanted to accomplish," said third-year coach Todd Caughlin. "Typically we discuss them together and agree on some things. Not this year. They're as goal oriented and ready as I've seen them. As a coach, that's all you can ask for."
The key word in the team's speech: accountability. The Cobras saw improvement in the 2011 season over the preceding year, but it isn't their ultimate goal.
"We are looking forward to a winning season," said Brittany Bass, a senior captain. "Coach Todd has really come in here and turned things around. We love playing for him, and we expect some big things for our final season in Conference Carolinas. This team is hoping to go out on top as we enter the new conference next year."
The Cobras return their entire lineup from a year ago, including Conference Carolinas third-team selection Taylor Willis. In addition to Bass and Willis, Samantha Celek, Hannah Vadakin, April Griggs, Katie McElveen and Mindy Morris are also back. Caughlin added five newcomers for the season – four freshmen and one junior transfer.
"We've got a great group of upperclassmen and new players," Caughlin said. "The chemistry and communication has been terrific throughout the preseason."
As long as those two aspects flourish, fans have every reason to expect the team to achieve its goals.
The women's volleyball team opens its season at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Invitational Tournament Aug. 31.