Photo by Ambre Rogue / Staff Photographer
With the season winding down, most teams are gearing up for either a postseason run or a celebration of their team’s seniors. For Middle Tennessee Volleyball, they aren’t preparing for either and that’s okay.
The team is incredibly young, as they have no seniors and only two juniors. Jacqueline Lux and Sloan Sullivan have each had successful runs at MT, with Lux picking up her 1000th career dig in a game against Southern Miss on October 21. Lux is also expected to pick up her 1000th career assist against the University of Texas-El Paso on Sunday. Interim head coach Jeff Huebner recognizes that Lux will be a big loss, as she is set to graduate in May.
“Replacing her is going to be really tough,” Huebner said of Lux. “Whoever [replaces her] will have big shoes to fill.”
With all of the trials the team has endured this year, younger players such as Regan Coughlin, Makila York and Delaney Gallagher stepped up as leaders at different points in the season. Gallagher was the first, as Huebner recalls her as the “trailblazer” of this team’s enthusiasm.
“Any kind of enthusiasm that we’ve learned to have is because Delaney’s been able to do it while other people weren’t helping her,” Huebner said of Gallagher. “Now we’ve got people helping her, and I think that those kind of leaders really over time are going to make this program great.”
Players like York and Coughlin added to the leadership aspect, as they both stepped up recently. York is averaging 10 kills a game over the last few weeks and Coughlin consistently posts a high hit percentage, like her .326 average against UAB. York believes that sacrifice is crucial for someone to be a leader.
“It doesn’t have to show in the stats but I know it benefits my team the most,” York said of her role. “That is what I’m focused on, team play and definitely what I have to do to make my team successful.”
Both Huebner and York named Coughlin as someone who stepped up during the season. Coughlin recognized the difficulties of being a leader, but knew that it was something that had to be done.
“Being a leader can be really hard and you just have to do it,” Coughlin said. “You have to have the mindset to say ‘I’m going to give this up’ or ‘do this for my team’ that’s going to help them out even if it’s hard for me.”
As young as the team is, the fact that the younger players have stepped up as leaders is a sign that this team could be mature beyond their years. Huebner continues to remind his players to trust the process and believe in what they were doing.
“We are really excited for the future of MTSU volleyball,” Huebner said. “You can see it across conference, all of the comments from opposing team’s coaches. Everybody is a little nervous about what’s going to happen next because the return to prominence is coming.”
The team will take the court at the AMG this Sunday when they battle against the UTEP Miners. Game time is set for 1 p.m.
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