CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - With first-year head coach Travis Filar, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga volleyball team has had an up and down start to the spring on the scoreboard, but there have been positives that can be taken away from the matches. The Lady Mocs kicked off the campaign with a 2-1 win at Belmont on March 31, but had a difficult time on April 3 hosting UAB, who took four sets, at Maclellan Gym.
Chattanooga has another opportunity Saturday against the Blazers as they travel to Birmingham, Ala. for the UAB tournament. Troy, Alabama State and Jacksonville State are among the other teams at the all day event.
The Lady Mocs conclude the spring on April 17 with an Alumni Match at Maclellan Gym. A free coaches clinic headed by Filar, who will show coaches in the area some of the drills that Chattanooga has incorporated in its practices, begins at 3 p.m. with the first serve of the contest set for 5 p.m.
"The spring in general has been great," said Filar. "The kids have bought in to what we are trying to do in the gym, which is changing the culture and the way we train and work. This is a process though and we have to keep continually reminding ourselves that we have to stay the course because this change is not going to happen overnight."
The Lady Mocs dropped the first set 25-15 before being very competitive with the Blazers in the final three sets, but came up just short at 25-22, 25-23 and 25-20. A photo gallery from the match can be viewed through the link at the top of the page.
"Once we got into a rhythm and groove, the team started to perform better after the slow start," said Fliar. "We were right in it during the second, third and fourth sets and really could have won at least two of those final three sets. Especially the third when we were up 17-12, UAB battled back and we did not respond very well to their rally. In the fourth, we went down, 7-1, and moments later we were up, 8-7.
"Just like this match, volleyball is a game of runs and we need to be better in handling those runs that go for us and against us."
The first-year head coach does realize that the team is going to take a couple of steps back at times, but has to be able to learn and grow from those mistakes.
"Following the match, we talked about our performance not being where we wanted it to be against UAB, but we are going to learn from it," said Filar. "I could definitely tell that the kids thought and felt the same feelings as the coaching staff. There was definitely a difference in energy, competitiveness and fight between the two matches."
The Lady Mocs were challenged going into the week and the players responded with a change in mentality and the way they have been training.
As Chattanooga is now in its fourth week of spring practices, Filar has seen the team grow together with their communication on and off the court.
"The team as a whole has been the most impressive to me," said Filar. "They have bought into how we are trying to do things and have also accepted the changes we have made to their work habits in the gym and weight room. We have also really focused on a family atmosphere."
The next chance for the Lady Mocs to show themselves on the court is Saturday at the UAB Tournament.
"The challenge for us going into an all day tournament is can we bring the energy, competitiveness and fight to every point like we did against Belmont," said Filar. "If we can do that, then we will have a successful day. I am not too worried about wins and losses in the spring. I want to be sure that we are competing hard and coming together as a team."