The Titans started the spring season playing the annual alumni game…
Carolyn Zimmerman: We had 10 players return for our alumni game, and at least one player that has her jersey hanging in Titan Gym was on the court.
Our soon-to-be grads, Gabrielle Dewberry, Kayla Neto, Brenna Cygan, Torrie Brown and Kaylynne Taeatafa all joined the alumni. It was their official crossing over of the threshold into what I call the "Used-to-Be's".
The alumni game was a great night, and a good opportunity to compete against a team other than ourselves. Very rarely do we play sets to 25 when we are drilling in practice, because most of the time we are working on mini games, so it was good to have the alumni game be a culmination of all our hard work.
The game was very competitive and there was a lot of excitement. We had some fans at the game, and the alumni are definitely still competitive. We ended up losing in five sets, but it was a good progression, and we were able to see what some of our players are capable of doing. We were also able to go off on spring break with some really good thoughts.
Starting the spring season at San Diego State…
Carolyn Zimmerman: When we returned from spring break, we had four days to ramp up for our very first tournament at San Diego State. That was an exciting day to see some different faces and rivals of ours. Our first match was against the San Diego State alumni team. It was a good tune-up and an opportunity for us to have some success and very little adversity.
After the first match, we played tough against San Diego State and Loyola Marymount. From that weekend, what we took away was that our middles needed to not only be better scorers, but also needed to more available in transition. Using the video, we got feedback from the choices and offensive sequences that our setter was running that we were able make some adjustments on.
Traveling to UC Irvine for week two…
Carolyn Zimmerman: Irvine was a pretty successful day for us. We opened up against San Diego, and played competitively. We lost both sets and turned around to sweep Northridge in our next match. Northridge has been a pain in our side, so it was a good win for us mentally, and it was much needed. We served well and our offense was firing on all cylinders. We were strong in both the front row and back row attack, whether we were in or out of system.
From that match we transitioned to play USC. We approached that match very confident and excited. We went after them and split sets, and that was the highlight of our weekend at Irvine.
Completing spring play at Loyola Marymount
Carolyn Zimmerman: Our final weekend of play, we finished up at LMU. We beat the Lions in both sets, and I think it was a combination of us executing well at times, as well as our opponent being dysfunctional – and some of that was our doing.
From there we played UC Santa Barbara, and I thought our effort was mediocre. We didn't have the same passion, and we played just good enough to lose.
We had a break before we played UCLA, and we definitely brought the same demeanor from the week before when we played USC. We got off to a 4-0 start and had a great lead by mid-match. We ended up letting them back in it, but snuck out the win in the first set. In the second set, we were ahead 16-15 when time was called, so we walked away with the feeling of a sweep.
Highlights of the spring
Carolyn Zimmerman: We continue to see that Alyse Hensley is going to be a force on the right. She's very effective and high scoring. She can score front row and back row, and additionally with the final tournament, we inserted her into some of the serve-receive patterns to see if how she would adapt, and it looks like something we want to continue to nurture.
Bre Moreland had a great spring. Between Leah Best, Moreland and Hensley, those are three players we know are going to be very efficient scorers for us next year, and we are still looking to see who is going to develop into that fourth scoring position.
Overall the spring was very productive and we absolutely learned a lot. We finished on a high note, and everyone is feeling really good about going into the fall.
Biggest surprise or unexpected development of the spring…
Carolyn Zimmerman: The players really feel like they have come together as a team, and they feel there is a sense of trust when they play together. As most know, that's the byproduct of teamwork and selflessness.
From a coaching perspective, probably my greatest pleasure is really seeing Leah Best grow into her shoes. I've had some time to chat with her, and I think we have come to the agreement that this is what we've known she's always been capable of doing.
What will the team be working on…
Carolyn Zimmerman: After spring's end we know that we are very mindful about determining who are the people and the players that can support the three top scorers on the team. It's not just having a strong arm and the will, it's also having a strong mind and mental toughness.