After earning a spot in the postseason last year for the first time since 2010, the LSU volleyball team wasted no time preparing for the upcoming season.
“In the postgame news conference after [the NCAA tournament], our season this year started,” said LSU coach Fran Flory.
Not only did the team participate in LSU’s inaugural sand volleyball season in the spring, but two Tigers spent a portion of their summer sporting red, white and blue.
Sophomore middle blocker and American Volleyball Coaches Association South Region Freshman of the Year Briana Holman spent the latter part of June in China playing for one of three U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Teams.
She started most of her matches with the U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Teams and finished the 10-day tour with more than 30 kills, as her squad finished second in the tournament.
Holman said the biggest challenge she faced was adjusting to the speed of the game overseas.
“Blocking them was really hard because it’s either a hit, miss or an out,” Holman said. “Either they would hit it straight down, hit into the block or they’d miss it, every single time. Since I’ve been back, our offense has been a lot slower.”
Outside hitter Helen Boyle also had an opportunity to represent the United States over the summer for the first time since arriving to Baton Rouge in 2011.
“That was a special, special thing for Helen,” Flory said. “She’s been part of youth programs but never quite made it collegiately.”
She made the most of her long-awaited opportunity, helping her squad win gold in its tournament at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Boyle said she had some jitters at first and transitioning back from sand volleyball to the indoor game was more difficult than anticipated, but it became one of the most rewarding experiences of her collegiate career once she overcame those obstacles.
“It was very hard to transition back,” Boyle said. “I tried not to play any sand this summer so that I could get back to playing indoor the same way I did last year.”
Junior outside hitter Katie Lindelow ù who also participated in sand volleyball last spring — echoed Boyle, saying she also had to go through a transition period before returning to regular form.
“It definitely was exciting to get back on the hard court,” Lindelow said. “It took some time, but we’re getting our touch back.”
The Tigers went through a leadership academy taught by sports leadership guru Jeff Janssen, where the team came up with its theme for the season.
“If you see our poster it says ‘Compelled,’” Flory said. “Compelled means doing a little bit more than is asked in the right way for all the right reasons and never saying ‘stop’.”