Rishell, Friedland solidify winning culture at ULM

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Rishell, Friedland solidify winning culture at ULM

Nate Nasworthy, [email protected]

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Walking on the beach is a favorite pastime for most people. The sand between your toes, the music, the sun-it’s a great way to relax. However, in the world of collegiate beach volleyball, it’s time to get up and get wins.
When director of volleyball Russ Friedland was hired, he was brought in for his indoor volleyball knowledge. However, Friedland had to double as beach volleyball coach as well.
“When I got here, I did some basic stuff with the team and I was kind of learning on the fly and knew that we needed to bring someone in that could help them,” Friedland said.
Friedland knew just the person for the job. A well-respected woman in the beach volleyball world and a friend for the past decade- Sara Rishell. Rishell got to ULM late in the season last year, but that wasn’t stopping either of them.
“We didn’t have to build that trust. We were able to hit the gas pedal and get going,” Friedland said.
After a nine-win season last year, technique was the building block that Rishell used to take the team to the next level.
“With beach knowledge, they really didn’t know too much. They do a really good job of working hard, so it wasn’t really an issue of effort,” Rishell said.
Beyond technique on the courts, Friedland and Rishell wanted to build a new culture that would lay the groundwork for years to come.
“Little things like the nets we have now and a fence around the court. Having their matches announced at basketball games and at halftime, that was the biggest thing to them,” Rishell said.
“I thought it was going to take longer, but they’ve bought in. And having that foundation will be extremely helpful going forward,” Friedland said.
The new culture has immediately paid off. The team has had three pairs ranked nationally this season. The P2 team of Maile Sellers and Catherine Griffith will get the opportunity of a lifetime when they travel to California this summer for the Pairs Championships. “They’ll be there in a ULM jersey and people across the country seeing that will be really cool,” Rishell said.
Freshman Elizabeth Moreland has also been ranked with her P4 partner, Allie Kemp.
“It’s about not being afraid and going for it. The whole team is so welcoming. They took me in like a sister,” Moreland said.
ULM was able to finish up their home stand this season with the Warhawk Challenge and won two out of the three games played.
There’s no doubt that this team has a bright future and Friedland knows he made the right choice in hiring Rishell with one simple statement.
“She’s a rockstar,” Friedland said.