Volleyball looking for a bounce back year under new leadership

After a roller coaster ride of a season last year, the women’s volleyball team is preparing to move on from the past and show everyone why last year was a fluke.

Starting last year, there were high expectations surrounding the women’s volleyball team at FIU. They had a solid group of newcomers and veterans that were poised to make a deep run. However, that all came crashing down when the team was decimated by injuries.

“With all the controversy that happened last year, I think it really brought us all together, we all know how to approach different problems and overcome adversity now,” said junior libero Carolyn Fouts.

When the ladies speak about their upcoming season their eyes say everything, and you can tell they are hungry to show everyone this team is revamped and geared up for this upcoming season.

The burden of positioning the team to succeed is now squarely on the shoulders of a woman who knows a little bit about success in the volleyball world. Guiding them throughout this season will be new Head Coach Rita Buck-Crockett.

“She came to one practice last year and almost changed my whole arm swing in an hour, by the end of the practice we were all really shocked at how much we had learned in just one practice with her and were very impressed,” senior middle blocker Kimberly Smith said.

A member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Class of 2011 and a two-time Olympian, Buck-Crockett brings a wealth of playing experience at the highest levels of volleyball competition to FIU, along with over 20 years of coaching experience.

This head coaching change came as a bit of a surprise considering the athletic department brought in  Buck-Crockett last year as the Sand Volleyball coach. However, with such experience and knowledge it was a welcomed adjustment by the players.

Joining Coach Buck-Crockett on the sideline will be associate Head Coach Felix Hou. His resume boasts serious volleyball experience at both the collegiate and international playing fields, including 16 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience and extensive international expertise, both as a coach and a player.

“They have a big heart for the game and that’s very inspiring for us players and learning from two Olympians,” Fouts said. “Specialty coaches like them can specifically help certain positions, it makes a big difference and we really respect everything that they have to say.”

Hou also realized that the upcoming year for the Panthers would have many challenges and obstacles to overcome.

“With the new conference change this year we are going to be facing tough teams right off the bat. I believe with the returners we have and the new players coming in we will be able to make a splash right from the start and really get into this season, “ Hou said.

Former Volleyball Head Coach Trevor Theroulde, who was released as the head coach, was unavailable for comment.

Buck-Crockett was also unavailable for comment as of press time of this story.

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