SALISBURY, Md. – As the calendar begins to flip to September the start of a new chapter and season is in the minds of every volleyball team. Salisbury University volleyball will look to write a new chapter in its illustrious history while also building off the success the program experienced during the 2016 season. With new faces and five open spots in the starting line up the team will look to compete both on the court and in the classroom and against their opponents and themselves.
Head Coach Justin Turco enters his fifth season at the helm for the Sea Gulls and is looking forward to the season but wants to make sure the focus of his 2017 squad doesn't stray. "We are focusing on the little things and winning the day," said Turco. "We want to win the CAC and make a run in the NCAA tournament but we need to focus on being good at the little things in practice, in the classroom, in the weight room, et cetera" It is those "little things" as Turco states over and over that really can make the difference between success and defeat.
Turco believes that "team chemistry, unselfish play, pushing each other both on and off the court, and achieving the little successes off the court lead to success." He stated that there are so many positive things about Salisbury from the President, to the athletic director, to the support staff, to the student-athlete life here at Salisbury contribute to the success that the volleyball program has had and will continue to have. "There is unbelievable support from the university at all levels and from the community that really helps our talented student-athletes succeed in all aspects of our program," said Turco.
With the departure of five starters from last year's team, the roster is wide open for people to step up and take over. "Everyone can be a leader and has the ability to lead," said Turco. "We will have leaders in the locker room, leaders on the court, leaders in the classroom, and leaders in the community. Our players will be and are leaders in their own way." There is excitement to see each player return as well as see the incoming freshmen class, who will be asked to step up right away. "I expect them to come in and buy into the team culture and philosophy but above all compete with the veteran players," said Turco.
However, Turco is preaching to his team that while the departed seniors left a mark and set a high bar all turning in extremely successful careers this team is different. "We are a new team this year and they have to leave their own mark," said Turco. "This team will have its own legacy and its own style as compared to last year's team."
Keeping his team as prepared as they can be not only includes doing the "little things" or pushing them in practice but also includes the schedule. "We want to schedule and play tough matches," said Turco. "The Capital Athletic Conference is strong and filled with a lot of good teams, so we want our schedule to be hard to prepare us for the teams that we will face and need to beat if we want to achieve our goals." When asked though if he had one or two teams circled on the schedule Turco just smiled and said "yes, the Sea Gull Classic because it's our first match and tournament of the year. Only team I care about is the next team on our schedule."
The Sea Gulls have lofty expectations for the upcoming 2017 season but Turco knows he has the team and support to achieve what he and the program know they are capable of. "We will be successful in 2017 because of what we have talked about in this interview," said Turco. "We have the support of the university, community, President, athletic director, athletic staff, sports information staff, professors, alumni, students, families, et cetera." These are the things that Turco and his players know need to be successful and continue the success that this program has had throughout its history.
Salisbury opens the season on Friday, September 1, at 4 p.m., when it takes on Medaille College in the first match of the Sea Gull Classic.