We're beyond excited for season

Pierson Clair

USC has been going through hard two-a-day practices to prepare for pre-conference matches.

Summer is drawing to a close, school just started, and a new excitement surges through me. It’s officially volleyball season!

Hi, all! I’m Emily Young, a junior volleyball player at the University of Southern California. This is my second year as a contributing blogger on espnW. This season, I hope to give you inside access to all of our triumphs and challenges, and it’s bound to be a fun ride.

The story of our season starts long before this post, back to our spring training and summer lifting. We spend so much time preparing for our fall season that by the time it’s finally here, we are beyond excited for competition. For the last two weeks, our team has been doing hard two-a-day practices to get ready for our pre-conference matches.

In comparing last year’s two-a-day practices to this year’s, I noticed some differences that make this season unlike the past.

1. Our six freshmen bring a lot of talent to our team. Every year, I feel like our freshmen get better and better when they come in. Not only are they more physical, but they also have great volleyball IQ. Our freshmen have picked up our system quickly and make great decisions on the court. We’ve all heard about how impactful they were at the high school and club level, but I’m so excited to see them flourish in the collegiate game.

2. I’ve come to realize that our coaches do not like zip lining. During two-a-days, our team does several team-building exercises that get everyone out of their comfort zone. Last year, we did a zip-line activity. As an adrenaline seeker, I had a fantastic time. As for coach Mick Haley and some of our coaching staff who are not fans of heights -- not so much.

This year, our team did two activities that got us out of our comfort zones in an entirely new realm: classical music and art. Our team went to the Hollywood Bowl to see the world-famous L.A. Philharmonic perform Tchaikovsky and to hold a scavenger hunt at the Getty Center. These activities allowed our team to identify and respect the precision and work that go into music and art, all the while experiencing the great cultural landmarks in our own back yard.

3. Our schedule is harder than ever, and we are putting an emphasis on organization and recovery. Since many of our matches will be televised, we play a lot of Friday-Sunday matches in order not to conflict with football games. This means we will be on the road longer, which makes it more difficult to study and recover. We already are combating our soon-to-be hectic season by making sure each player has kept up with rehab and has organized planners and calendars through Dec. 21: the day of the NCAA championship match.

4. This year, I’m an upperclassman … scary! As an upperclassman, I’ve taken more of a team leadership role, and now it’s my turn to teach the freshmen how our drills and systems work. This will be my third time experiencing everything, and you know what they say: “third time is the charm.” So I’m looking forward to the most exciting season ever. Fight On!