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-   -   Opportunity Awaits - #15 Michigan Preview (http://www.udpride.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33258)

BeckysTXA 09-07-2019 11:29 AM

Opportunity Awaits - #15 Michigan Preview
Saturday, September 7 @ 7 pm

The hardest thing to do in volleyball is to take serve receive. People who have never done it, don’t understand it. Back when the intermission between the second and third sets was longer, you would see fans brought onto the court to perform some contest for prizes. UDBrian wanted Dayton to put together a serve receive contest having fans try to take a serve - sent directly to them - and deliver the ball into a large waste basket located where the setter stands to accept the pass. Let them experience how tough this skill is first hand. It’s not easy, even when the serve comes right to you. I use to tell UDBrian I wanted UD promotions to approach Hershey to give out free samples of “Take Five” chocolate candy bars after a fourth set if the match was going to five to determine the winner. Obviously you can tell where my priorities lie.

When asked this past week what UD did so well against #7 Florida to win the first and second sets and come close to winning the fifth set, Head Coach Tim Horsmon’s response was we were winning the serve and pass game and that allowed us to run a very effective offense. In words a new fan can understand, that means UD was handling serves and passing well to our setters so they were in a position to set the ball to all or most of our hitters on the court. This keeps the defense guessing and a step behind in getting both their block and back row defense set up. When you can do that, you score often. It also means Florida was having problems handling our serves, which limited their ability to use all of their hitters on any one play. We witnessed that same level of play for two sets against Receiving Votes (soon to be ranked) Missouri.

With limited video streaming of away matches this season, you have to make some assumptions. But, the Flyers played very well in the serve and pass game the first two sets against Florida and Missouri, even though we lost a close first set to the Tigers, as we did the fifth set to Florida. The opportunity tonight against #14 Michigan is to take the next step and win the serve and pass game and close out three sets to take the match. We have been close against some huge programs. We have the talent to read defenses and send the ball to the open hitter to give us our best chance to score. We just have to deliver a good pass. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time. It has to be good. And the high-level of play has to be consistent for a greater percentage of the match for Flyer Volleyball to get to the next level and knock off #14 Michigan. One can only imagine the frustration the team might be experiencing knowing they can play at that level, but have fallen short in big matches this season. So how does one keep the doubts from creeping and settling in, especially on a young team? Graduate transfer, middle blocker Rachael Fara addressed the strength of the Flyer program.

“Quite honestly, the biggest strength of the program is the support which staff and athletes show to each other,” she said. “Every trainer, team physician, administrator, professor, coach, manager, facilities crew member (and others) I’ve talked to treat each other as people first. Sure we say, “Thank you,” and hold the door open, but it is so much more than that. It is amazing to play in Frericks, on Hausfeld Court, and have such great facilities…but it’s the people that make or break a program.

“The people who I aim to surround myself with and am currently surrounded by, I look up to. I strive to emulate them in so many facets. I am astounded at how loyal they are to each other, how willing everyone is to stick by athletes – by me. We want nothing but the best for each other here at Dayton. We want to see growth and development at every level. We understand that the ends do not justify the means. A school like this is like a needle in a haystack. I have quite literally searched the entire country and can tell you no place is like Dayton. I am blessed to have a long and often trying career (in volleyball) to learn from. It is an honor to cap it off with everyone here.”

Those are pretty powerful words from someone who has been a part of the Flyer family for less than a year. Fara is the oldest member of the team, and she is seeing more playing time each match. She is helping this team in a lot of ways that don’t show up in the box score. How does she feel she is contributing?

“This is a little harder to answer. I tend to be too self-critical. Right now my goal is to be a solid, low-error player, especially in pressure situations. I’m generally the oldest player on the court and understand that if I’m not performing my best, I can help others see something they may not. I’ll find shots for hitters, or trends in the opponents as a valuable contribution,” she explained.

“Otherwise. I hope to add a strong arm and disciplined block to set up (our) defense around. I don’t touch 10-7, and my body has wear and tear, so I have to be smart and use my head and experience.”

The Flyers are going to need a combination of experience, discipline, focus and talent to knock off #14 Michigan tonight. The Wolverines have more than twice as many Top 100 players as the Flyers, but only hold a one player edge in overall elite-talent. (#8, #32, #40, #40, #46, #68, #77, #82, one Top 250 and two Foreign players for a total of 11. Dayton has 10.)

It’s a Red-Out tonight with the first 1000 fans getting a free t-shirt. The Flyers want to try to break the Frericks’ Center attendance record. Go for the free t-shirt. But, more importantly, go for the Flyer family. Prove Fara right when she said, “…but it’s the people that make or break a program.” The Flyer Faithful are a big part of that equation. If you get a chance, tell Fara, “Welcome to UD.” And stop by your favorite retailer to pick up a big bag of Hershey chocolates “Take Five” candy bars, ready to hand out after the fourth set if we are headed to five…I like our chances to “Take Five” in this match.

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