Lisette Lopez: Right now the team is 6-1 in conference play, how are you feeling?
Head Volleyball Coach Karen Chisum: Really good, especially coming off of the road win against UTA. Anytime you go to College Park Center, you are going to have a rowdy crowd, and are going to get one of the best teams in the conference. UTA played pretty good, but I was very very proud of our kids, even though we lost the first set last night we stayed composed, confident and we just took care of business.
Lopez: Has the team executed play from practice onto the court?
Chisum: Definitely, we have had some pretty great practices these past couple of weeks after we beat Arkansas State. They started really believing in themselves. We have talked about it all year long that we have a lot of potential, and a lot of talent. We just had to get it all together, and I think we have found the right pieces. They all look good right now. The players are doing their job so it is all falling together, although we know there is still a lot of volleyball left to play in the conference.
Lopez: What goes through your mind in each game?
Chisum: Just point by point. When one point is over, win or lose you start thinking about the next point. My biggest thing is ball control, if we pass and serve well we are probably going to win the majority of the matches. We must have good passing and ball control because we have the setters and the hitters, we just have to get the ball to them.
Lopez: How can you measure your team’s success?
Chisum: Seeing the kids’ attitudes, and their improvement. We have really seen a lot of improvement from the beginning and I think that is huge. Wins and losses are one thing, but that is not what it is all about. Seeing my student-athletes feel good about themselves, be confident and have a little error of cockiness, without letting it get to their heads. You have got to believe in yourself and believe in your teammates. It is a team sport it is not an individual sport—that is huge.
Lopez: Are there any goals for the team for the second half of the season?
Chisum: We just take one match at a time. We know we have a three road swing. The first game was UTA which we were able to take care of. Now we go to Georgia State and Georgia Southern. They are back to back and that is not easy. You basically get on an airplane, fly two or three hours, get off, check into the hotel, go practice, have study hall, then we get up and play and immediately after we play, we travel to another team and we have to be ready to play them at 6:30 at night. So it is a mental game as well as a physical game and as coaches we have to prepare them and make sure that they are ready to play.
Lopez: What is the mindset of the team with their winning streak so far?
Chisum: I think confidence; they just love each other. This is a group that has been a lot of fun to coach, and to be around. I can see the admiration and respect for each other. Winning makes it more fun, no doubt about it, but I think if I were to say one adjective about the team, it would be confidence.
Lopez: Is there any room for improvement? What could you work on a little more?
Chisum: I think consistency, but I have always talked about it with the team, especially with the serving. We missed way too many serves on Thursday against UTA. Again that is confidence but, the serve is the one skill in volleyball that the athlete has control over. So we have got to believe in our serves and consistency with our offense. I think our defense has come along well, blocking has gotten better, digging has gotten better. Micah Dinwiddie, freshman libero, has done a great job.
Lopez: In the preseason polls, you were set to finish second behind Arkansas State, a team that you beat, what do you have to say about that?
Chisum: We still have to go to Arkansas, and play them again. They are in our division they are going to be very ready for us, but I tell you what, we will be ready too. We still have to play them at home, and we need to make sure we don’t stump our toes between now and then. We can’t sit here and focus on Arkansas state because we still have Georgia State and Georgia Southern right now.
Lopez: What is your goal as a coach for the team?
Chisum: My goal for them is to win a championship ring, and that is their goal too. The seniors, I think, won one their freshman year, but they are due again. I just really want success for them, and to feel good about themselves when they leave.