Irish head into season with postseason success in sight
Darcy Dehais | Thursday, August 24, 2017
Coming off a 22-10 season last year, their first winning record in four seasons, the Irish look to continue their success as they open the new season.
Despite falling short of qualifying for a spot on the 2016 NCAA championship bracket, the Irish turned the tides last season. In his first year as head coach in 2015, Jim McLaughlin and the Irish finished at 7-25 and 2-18 in ACC play. In 2016 the team was much more successful, finishing with a winning record in spite of an injury to senior setter Caroline Holt.
With the team headed toward entering the NCAA championship, Holt suffered a foot injury that cut her season short. She led the team and ranked second in the ACC with 10.97 assists in 2016. Now back and healthy, Holt said she expects to take on a bigger role and lead the team toward their goals in the postseason.
“A goal for myself is to take on responsibility,” Holt said. “This being my senior year, I don’t want to hold back with anything. I want to help to lead this team, and I think we have a lot of goals for the team this year. Winning the ACC and making the tournament is still one of our goals, and it has been for awhile. We’re all really excited to get in the gym every day and live up to these goals.”
The Irish return 12 players this season, including six seniors. They were named fourth in the ACC preseason rankings, and Holt and senior middle blocker Sam Fry are placed on preseason all-ACC team.
Holt said the leadership of the experienced team has been a key to their success in the preseason.
“Having the experience is a really big part,” Holt said. “We can definitely already see it in preseason, wrapping up training sessions before this first weekend of play. It really seems like we’re able to bring in what we trained so hard for in the spring, and we’ve almost been able to pick up right where we left off. Having the experience out on the court, you can really see we’re more comfortable playing with each other in the way that we play.”
Holt said that the team will not take last year’s winning season for granted, but rather stay focus on the present.
“We can take the winning season last year with a grain of salt,” she said. “It does give us a little confidence and a little swagger when we step in the gym, but we can’t let it get too much into our heads. We’re still working hard — probably even a little harder than last year. We keep pushing ourselves every day and exceeding those limits we might have had on us prior to this year. We’re setting even higher standards and trying to meet those everyday.”