Head coach John Hutton is entering his tenth season leading the women's volleyball program at D'Youville College. Hutton's combined win total for the women's program and 17 years as the men's volleyball coach stands at 362 and counting.
Here is a question and answer session about the upcoming 2013 season and the lessons learned from 2012.
Q: What were the initial challenges when practice started?
Hutton: "The makeup of our team is seven returning players joined by 10 first-year players. The first challenge was that the 17-player roster is the largest during my time at D'Youville (men's or women's volleyball) so it's a new dynamic for me as a coach. Every day we have a two court practice and I want our sessions to be at a fast pace. Every drill or scrimmage situation has to have a large number of players involved and despite the large numbers every player still needs a maximum number of repetitions. The second challenge was integrating the newcomers with the veterans. I am real pleased with the leadership role the four seniors have taken on. Lara Svensson (Tonawanda, NY/Sweet Home), Kayla Deth (Cheektowaga, NY/Holy Angels Academy), Anna Campbell (Hamburg, NY/Frontier), and Molly Minkiewicz (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West) really want their last year on the team to be a good one and have done a great job bringing this group together. The time we all spent together in pre-season before classes began was all positive and there is a really good vibe in our program."
Q: 2012 didn't end real well so what is the team's focus in the early part of the new season?
Hutton: "We haven't hid from last year's finish (13-straight losses to end the season) but have instead embraced it as a learning tool. The seven returning players and I talked in great length about it in the off-season and during last spring's practices. As a program, we entered this year differently by changing almost everything from top to bottom. There is a stronger emphasis on mental approach we take day in and day out. We have made significant changes in our in-season strength and conditioning plan. We made team-building a priority. The practices have been amped up in intensity but slowed down when we need to make sure all the players understand what is going on. There has been an increased focus on competition and their results. So with all that, it is imperative to start off the season with success early in the schedule and build momentum once the conference portion of the schedule begins in October."
Q: So who are the key players in the 2013 edition of Spartan Volleyball?
Hutton: "I think the four seniors: Campbell, Deth, Minkiewicz, and Svensson are primed to have their best individual season. Sophomores Alyssa Dueringer (Orchard Park, NY/Orchard Park), Emily Milbrand (North Tonawanda, NY/North Tonawanda), Natalie Rieman (West Seneca, NY/Immaculata Academy), and Erin Pennington (Lyndora, PA/Butler) now have experience on their side. Kaylee Stewart (Wilson, NY/Wilson) and Savannah Brayton (Queensbury, NY/Queensbury) lead a first-year group of players that has shown a lot of promise."
Hutton: "I don't want to prognosticate the number of wins or our place in the AMCC standings, but let's just say all of the players and coaches believe in our mission and have set the goal to turn our effort into results."
D'Youville opens the 2013 volleyball season August 30 at Wells College followed by a pair at home August 31 versus Morrisville State at 12:00 p.m. and Keuka College at 2:00 p.m.