The Orion

Volleyball reloads, eyes postseason

Nick Reddy

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Chico State senior volleyball defensive specialist Emily Duran. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats

After a 16-13 record and fourth place finish in the California Collegiate Athletic Association competition last season, the 2014 edition of the Chico State women’s volleyball team has its eyes set on the postseason. The ‘Cats won six of their final seven matches, including four wins by three set sweeps, and lost only two seniors from a year ago.

The Wildcats open the 2014 season with a three-match tournament Sept. 4-6 at Seattle Pacific University. Highlighting the trip will be the matchup with a Dixie State University team that was ranked sixth in the Western Region last year. In 2013, the team ventured to Hawaii for its first taste of competition, returning with a 1-2 record.

The Orion sat down with senior defensive specialist Emily Duran to talk about the upcoming season.

The Orion: Who are some of your toughest opponents in the CCAA?

Duran: The CCAA is an all-around tough conference, so most of our games are usually competitive. For some reason though, every match since my freshman year, we have gone to five sets against Monterey Bay at home and away.

The Orion: What is it like losing two valuable seniors in Alex Shurtz and Molly Ratto, as well as the four first-year additions?

Duran: Losing Alex and Molly has been different because they both had enormous roles on the team. Alex was our big gun and Molly was our spark. It’s always hard losing seniors but you especially feel the loss when they’ve been on the court with you the past three years. But luckily our four freshmen are working really hard and meshing with the team.

The Orion: How will the Seattle trip compare to last season’s Hawaii adventure?

Duran: Seattle will be different because it is the only preconference tournament we have this year. So the three matches we play in Seattle are huge, we don’t have any time to waste. This trip will be less demanding since we aren’t traveling as far and there isn’t the time difference to deal with.

The Orion: How did your spring season/training camp go?

Duran: Spring season is long and can be difficult. We lift and condition three times a week and during practices focus a lot on individual skills and fundamentals of the game. We don’t even get to compete until April. We started triple days Aug. 18th. The first week of preseason we practice three times a day starting at 6 am. The first week went great despite a few injuries which always happen just because of the pace and intensity of the workouts. But we work extremely hard and even when our bodies feel the pain and fatigue, we do our best to prepare for our upcoming matches.

The Orion: How will you be a leader going into your final season?

Duran: Going into my final season, my goal as a leader is to just play as hard as I can. I try to bring energy and lead by example as much as possible but I’ve learned over the past few years here, especially as a defensive player, if you play passionately hard, sometimes that’s all a team needs.

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or @NickIsReddy on Twitter.

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Volleyball reloads, eyes postseason