Aug 16, 2013
Sarah Wroblicky says the Tigers have what it takes to get back to the NCAA Tournament (Anthony Hall photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Senior libero Sarah Wroblicky knows what Auburn's volleyball team needs to do to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and she says the 2013 Tigers are showing in preseason practice that they have it.
Wroblicky was a redshirt freshman when the 2010 Tigers made the first NCAA Tournament trip in school history.
"There is a lot of energy from everyone," Wroblicky said. "Everyone is super excited. We are competitive in every drill. We are really scrappy on defense. People go hard when they jump, and they've been jumping a lot higher.
"... I know what it takes. We are for sure going back."
Work in weightroom pays off on the court
Head coach Rick Nold says his third Auburn team is clearly mentally stronger than the past two, and it all started in the weight room under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Bryan "PK" Karkoska.
"It started in the spring," Nold said. "We really felt like there was a mental approach we needed to change. Sometimes when we would get in a tough situation or get tired after a long rally we had trouble responding to that. PK and his group did a great job of really challenging them in the weight room.
"We saw the results as we started practicing through the spring. We were physically in better shape without a doubt, but more than that we were mentally in better position to respond and not give in to being tired."
Wroblicky echoes those sentiments.
"It's been awesome," she said. "I've been here for five years now. Compared to last preseason, we are just so much better. It's exciting."
Focus on improvement
The focus of practice has been on improving individual skills as well as coming together as a team, and Nold says his players have bought in enthusiastically.
"I think it's gone really well," Nold said. "We kind of identified some things early we needed to work on. I think, as much as anything, the way they've come together and are working through practice are night and day compared to last year or the year before. They have an understanding of what we need to do when we come through the gym."
Season-opening road trip two weeks away
The Tigers will open their season in two weeks when they play at St. Louis in the Marcia F. Hamilton Classic. They play host St. Louis on Aug. 30, play Nebraska and Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 31 and SIU-Edwardsville on Sept. 1. Their first home match is against Green Bay on Sept. 5 in the Active Ankle Challenge at the Student Activities Center.
"We've worked on every skill," Nold said. "We talk a lot about foot movement. There is a lot of preparation with your skills that need to be done that allow you to be successful. We've spent a lot of time with their energy and effort and how they are playing together, being able to respond to good and bad plays."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: