By Brian Achatz
“Our returning players make a very strong core of this team. This is one of the most talented teams I have ever played on.” – Lindsay Homme Senior middle hitter
The end of the season was bitter for last year’s University of West Florida volleyball team.
After losing to Christian Brothers in the regional tournament, the Argonauts returned to UWF for the national tournament and proceeded to watch Tampa play Concordia-St. Paul for the national title. UWF was the only team to beat both Tampa and Concordia during the regular season.
Of the 19 members of the 2013 UWF team, 11 remember that bitter feeling and are working to avoid a repeat.
The Argos have two former Gulf South Conference players of the year returning to the team in junior Autumn Duyn and senior Lindsay Homme. Duyn, the recipient of the 2012 GSC Player of the Year Award, led the Argos with 351 total kills and 3.6 digs per set last season. Homme totaled 297 kills, was third on the team in blocks per game with .64 per set and is one of five seniors on the team this year.
“Our returning players make a very strong core of this team,” Homme said. “This is one of the most talented teams I have ever played on.”
The Argos roster is full of healthy competition for playing time with seven freshmen and one transfer student looking to establish their roles on the team. Junior Shelby Smith, a transfer from Hillsborough Community College, was third in total points (357.5) for Hillsborough last season.
“All of them can contribute majorly,” Homme said. “I think there is a spot for each of them on the court.”
Senior Abby Timmer is listed as right-side hitter and middle blocker for the upcoming season but said she has played every position in her time at UWF. Timmer also acknowledges that this is the deepest team she has been a part of at UWF.
“Coach (Wolter) did that for a reason. She wanted to bring in a big class of freshmen so they could learn and understand how we run things in this program,” Timmer said.
Four-time GSC Coach of the Year Melissa Wolter is entering her 10th season at UWF with an overall record of 214-80 since arriving in 2003. Wolter is primarily responsible for the rise of UWF volleyball.
“It’s easy to respect a coach who you know is right,” Timmer said. “She really focuses on mental toughness and making us a good person inside and out.”
The Argonauts open the season at home Sept. 6 at 11:30 a.m. against Missouri University of Science and Technology at the UWF Opening Weekend Tournament. The Argos have five regular-season opponents ranked in the NCAA preseason top 25, including No. 4 Minnesota Duluth.