We've now had a chance to chat with each of our four seniors this year. Here's a link to each of the interviews:
Haley Coleman and Peyton Redmond
Haley Coleman has become a star in this league. She goes into her senior season with as much a chance to earn Player of the Year honors as anyone in the Southland Conference. In terms of media types like me, Coleman's not a big talker. I'll forever remember a "painful" interview after a match at Incarnate Word in which I had about six questions for her and she echoed with about six words for me. But, don't let that fool you. Haley is quite conversational one-on-one outside the camera eye or microphone's range. Plus, she's super smart. As in, highly intelligent smart. I've always found this interesting : When you watch the team walk off the bus, you wouldn't guess she's the star outside hitter. She loves to have fun on the court but carries herself with virtually no swagger and just isn't the type to call attention to herself. That doesn't matter. After the match is done and it's time to get back on the bus everyone who was in the gym that night knows who's boss. Coleman is outstandingly fit. All of these athletes tend to keep themselves in prime shape, but Haley has been disciplined in this area for her entire time in Ladyjack purple. She's an example of how to care for one's self as a NCAA Division 1 athlete. She gets the absolute most out of her 5'9" frame and when it is all said and done, I think she'll be remembered as one of the best and most unique outside hitters we've had at SFA over the last 10-20 years.
In the Coleman/Redmond interview, Peyton straightforwardly states she doesn't "want to come out" of matches. I asked at one point about her strong suit (ball control) and then follow it up with whether or not she ever feels slighted as a hitter since the focus tends to be on her back row skills. I didn't expect such a strong response. I mean, I know every athlete wants to play every point, but I think Redmond has really asserted herself of late. She's definitely locked in on trying to play a consistent all-rotation game and stay on the floor. In the Memphis tournament, Redmond played six rotations against the two toughest opponents. At least in the early going, she seems to be the favorite for playing time in the second outside hitter slot. I can get the logic. The more Redmond stays on the floor - the more stable first touch can be for the SFA offense. This may weigh in coaches' minds as we are still settling into libero/DS usage with the freshmen. Watch the attack percentages. Sure, she'll have to hit a lot of junk balls and back row shots. But if she can hit a more typical .180-.190 for this role, then there may be no reason to relegate her to just back row duties. At least for one weekend, the formula seemed fine. Peyton has been a solid contributor all three years she's played for us. She's had a good volleyball career to this point. It will be interesting to see if there are substantial steps she can take forward in her swan song season.