The LSU volleyball season doesn’t start on Aug. 29 against No. 14 San Diego, at least not according to LSU coach Fran Flory.
It didn’t kick off on Tuesday’s media day, either.
It all began in Seattle, at the Alaska Airlines Arena on Dec. 7, after the Tigers’ loss to No. 3-ranked Washington in the NCAA tournament. Flory said her sights were set on the 2014 campaign the second she walked into the press room and faced the postgame media.
The loss is fresh in the minds of every veteran from last season’s squad. Senior setter Malorie Pardo said she still thinks about the contest “all the time.”
“We keep watching the film from it,” Pardo said. “It was exciting and a really fun team to play. We didn’t play teams that were that good deep in the season, so knowing what we have to do and how we have to prepare and how they play, it’s really going to carry over and help us this year.”
And so the Tigers moved past their season-ending defeat to the Huskies and into their upcoming season, where they have been picked to finish fourth in the Southeastern Conference in a vote by the league’s coaches.
The squad adopted a one-word motto for the year: “Compelled.”
“It means giving your all, and not just yourself, but making sure everybody is with you,” said senior outside hitter Helen Boyle. “If you leave one person behind, then you’re only as good as the worst player on your team.”
Last season, the Tigers had only one senior, middle blocker Desiree Elliot.
Elliot, who had 1,182 kills and 375 blocks and earned 21 awards during her four-year career in Baton Rouge, has since graduated, leaving a hole for a veteran leader to emerge.
In 2014, LSU has four seniors on its roster to try and push the “compelled” mentality.
Flory said the team motto is about teaching her players to keep pushing, no matter what their limits appear to be. She said the slogan applies to herself and her staff, too.
“Compelled means doing a little bit more than what is asked in the right way for all the right reasons and never saying ‘Stop,’ ” Flory said. “(It’s about) never really being satisfied with how much we’re able to train our players, and how much they’re able to give to the program and lead the young kids.”
With 18 players on the team, Flory has to manage one of the largest rosters she’s ever coached in 30 years at the collegiate level, and she said her current squad is one of her most talented groups.
Flory will get to see that group in game action in just over a week, and she said they will be ready for when they travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, for the season opener.
“Our players have a vision of what they want, and they have been driven in the gym,” Flory said. “They will have a great season. I have no doubt.”