Stefano Rivera/ Contributing Writer
As the women’s beach volleyball team prepares for its upcoming season, junior Aren Cupp will look to have another spectacular season.
Cupp has shown dominance all throughout her career, even before playing for the Panthers. Some of her accomplishments as a high schooler include first place finish in the U18 AAU Beach National Qualifiers Double Championship, second place finish in USAV Beach Junior Tour National Championships, and a bronze medal finish in the AAU Beach Junior Olympics.
“It was a great experience [playing in these events],” Cupp explained. “it really taught me how to play the game mentally, how to play with different partners, play in different weather. Wind is a big deal, and a lot of girls who play in college are indoor volleyball players so I think it’s given me a great advantage.”
As a freshman, Cupp finished 17-8 in her matches and held the No. 2 position in the AVCA National Championships. She competed with teammate, Tina Toghiyani, in all of her matches.
Last season as a sophomore, Cupp improved her record by going 19-2 in her matches, finishing with the highest win percentage, .902, on the team. Partnered with Toghiyani, she finished 13-1 and competed at the No. 5 position in the AVCA National Championships. As a duo, they defeated Florida State University’s Julie Brown and Cecilie Woie (18-21, 21-11 and 16-14) in the first round of the tournament.
Cupp served as the team’s captain last season. Only a sophomore, she showed that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still be dominant while being younger than most, as long as you believe in yourself.
“You just gotta bring it all. You can’t leave anything off the court,” Cupp said. “you have to have confidence, that’s the biggest thing we talk about on our team.”
Cupp looks to bring what she accomplished last season to tournaments and practices this season.
“It’s always a different experience when you go into a tournament versus practicing,” Cupp said, “so knowing the mentality that I need to have everyday going into a tournament, and bringing that into practice everyday.”
However, preparing for an upcoming season is more than just repeating what the team did the previous year. Changes need to be made in order to be as successful as possible and avoid becoming predictable. This is just one of the various challenges why having repeated success is so arduous.
“Knowing what it’s like playing different teams other than your own, in college, is a very big deal as well. Different teams play a different system in a game, so we’ve really worked to change our system and make it even more competitive and to give us that edge”, Cupp said.
She would like to emulate what last year’s team accomplished, as well as improve on her own record once again. The team will have to play collectively and as a whole to exhibit such success.
“I would like to place first in the nation. I would like to keep our team first in the East Coast. I would like to win all of my games,” Cupp said.
Cupp will look to lead her team as the Panther’s are set to take the sand on Friday, March 4, against University of New Orleans at the FIU Fort Lauderdale Invitational.