Volleyball: 2015-16 Season Preview

Head coach Fernanda Nelson gives us a preview on this year’s team.

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Volleyball: 2015-16 Season Preview

After making it to the Conference USA tournament for the second year in a row, Owls volleyball is poised to compete again in their conference. Photo by Max Jackson.

After making it to the Conference USA tournament for the second year in a row, Owls volleyball is poised to compete again in their conference. Photo by Max Jackson.

After making it to the Conference USA tournament for the second year in a row, Owls volleyball is poised to compete again in their conference. Photo by Max Jackson.

After making it to the Conference USA tournament for the second year in a row, Owls volleyball is poised to compete again in their conference. Photo by Max Jackson.

Ryan Lynch, Sports Editor

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After going 18-12 and making the Conference-USA tournament for the second year in a row last season, Florida Atlantic’s volleyball program is on the cusp of another winning campaign under fourth-year head coach Fernanda Nelson.

The team returns much of its talent from last year, graduating only two seniors (Liene Mellupe and Ivana Bulajic). The team also added six freshmen to build for the future and add depth behind their current starters.

With that in mind, the University Press sat down with coach Nelson to find out what can be expected on the court come Fall for the Owls.

UP: After going 18-12 and making the Conference tournament, what’s the next step you’d like to make as a program? Will this team make the conference tourney for a third time in a row?

FN:“Our goal is to win Conference USA, we want to win the whole thing. It’s going to take a lot of work, and that’s what we’re getting ready for.”

UP: With so many girls who were recruited coming from outside of the US including locales across the globe like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bosnia and Serbia, how do you help players acclimate to their environment here at FAU?

FN:“We have a family culture in place. [The newcomers] adjust really well and we make sure that they have everything that they need when they get here.“

UP: You have currently eight freshmen on roster, including two who redshirted last year. Who do you think will advance the most during the season?

FN:“I think all of them will be ready to help us to win.”

UP: Who do you think your toughest opponents will be this year? Is there a particular  matchup you have circled on the calendar?

FN: “We haven’t circled any one match or tournament, our goal is to play FAU volleyball every time we step on the court. If we can control our side of the net, we can beat anyone.”

UP: After this season is over, what skills will you have to replace from your four seniors? What will your biggest need be?

FN: “We definitely will need middle hitters. We will lose our two All-Conference players (Katarina Stepanovic and Brittney Brown), so we will have to recruit well and be ready for those players to step up.”

UP: What has changed over the past four years, to change a 7-19 team into a Conference title contender in that short span?

FN: “I think the biggest change has been the culture. The team realizes that it’s very simple: they’re going to work hard and you have to be ready to get your job done. But, we couldn’t do everything we’re doing right now without the support of the administration. We have every resource we need and the support we have is fantastic.”

The team starts their season at home on August 28 with the FAU Invitational tournament, facing Bethune Cookman at 12 p.m. and Stetson at 7 p.m. at FAU Arena. You can see the full schedule here.