Vollyball sets up to serve successful season

Dakota Ratley

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ULM Volleyball looks to prove preseason polls wrong and get out off the Sun Belt cellar.

The team is coming off of a disappointing 5-29 season, which featured a 2-16 record in conference. The team finished last in the Sun Belt. The preseason polls have the team placing in the same position this year.

Second-year coach Patrick Hiltz would not make any promises on where his team would finish, but he did have a warning for the rest of the conference.

“I know that the rest of the conference thinks we’re going to finish last. I think they’re sorely mistaken,” Hiltz said.

While the squad didn’t have a lot of team success, they had plenty of individual efforts to celebrate.  Every Warhawk on the roster set at least one career high last year. 

Hiltz said that the team understands that individual achievements are great, but that “the only stat the matters is that win/loss column.” 

The past few years have not been great for the Warhawks. Each year it seems as if the team is ready to break out but then falls apart. This year the goal is once again to make the conference tournament for the first time in ULM history.

This year’s group will be anchored by senior libero Marcela Araya. Last year Araya set the ULM single season record for digs with 549. She was only 33 digs away from taking over the school record for most digs in a career. The conference named her the Sun Belt Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. 

Araya said that the depth of the team shows up in practice. She said that the team practices better now than they have at any other time in her career.

“Whenever you have competition, they push to give your best every single time in practice, so you get better faster just because you have someone else trying to take your spot,” she said.

The team will begin the year participating in the SHSU Tournament, UCA Tournament and McNeese Tournament. They will travel to Stephen F. Austin in between the UCA and McNeese Tournaments. The team will play host to Grambling State in the lone non-conference home game.

The team conference schedules includes yearly opponents such as WKU, Troy and Texas State. This year schedule also includes first year Sun Belt member Appalachian State. Each conference foe plays a home and home series.