CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois volleyball team hosted their annual media day on Sunday. The Illini host their scrimmage on Saturday. It’s the first year under head coach Chris Tamas.
“We want to go faster just in terms of how we’re progressing but we also have to take our time to do it right. For a lot of it, it’s been reminders for the returners and also to integrate all the freshman,” Tamas said. “We changed some terminology as well so we’ve been going at a good pace and we’ve been improving, which I like to see but it’s taking some time to get everyone integrated on how we want to do things, what my standards are, and how we handle certain situations. So we’ve gone as fast as we can go but also slow enough to make sure that we’re doing everything correctly.”
The Illini missed the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since 2012. The players say they’ve mentioned it but are ready to move on and focus on the new season.
“We learned last year that every game is super important for preseason and everything,” senior Brandi Donnelly said. “I feel like last year we kind of had a slow start getting into and didn’t realize how much the early games counted for us. So I think that will definitely be on our mind during pre-conference games.”
“We actually don’t talk about it,” junior Jordyn Poulter added. “I think just having nine freshman, it’s a whole new team, it’s a whole new program. We’re just focused on one day at a time, one practice at a time.”
“We acknowledge the fact that we didn’t make it and it still burns a little bit but I don’t think we’re going to focus on not making it,” junior Ali Bastianelli said. “I think our focus this year is just to win as many games as we can and if we do what we need to do then we shouldn’t have to worry about not making it this year if we’re doing all the things that we need to.”