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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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What ails U?

By Cody Brunner

What does it feel like to dive onto a hardwood floor more than a hundred times a day? How much does it hurt to block a ball that is coming toward you at speeds of more than 65 mph?

The U volleyball team is the only squad on campus that can answer both these questions, as it has now blocked and dived its way through 22 matches this season.

So, how does it feel to constantly abuse your body like that?

“It definitely wears on you,” said outside-hitter Whitney Webb. “We’re pretty sore right now, but our coaches are doing well backing off of us on conditioning. We were working hard in the beginning on that stuff, but now we are focusing more on our technique.”

Webb isn’t the only one who noticed the change in focus.

“The coaches are doing a great job of cutting back in practice,” said libero Connie Dangerfield. “We’re doing a lot of different drills. They’re still working us really hard, but it’s not as demanding on our bodies.”

Not as demanding in the physical aspect, at least. The U coaches have put an emphasis on the mental part of the game in practice lately, using a variety of drills to try to keep their players fresh but focused.

“We’ve been trying to make good use of our time while we’re here (practicing),” said U head coach Beth Launiere. “Their bodies are a little bit sore, so we’re trying to lighten up on them. It’s a fine line, though, because we have to be in shape. We can’t take off so much that we lose our conditioning.”

The Utes can credit much of their conditioning to a rigorous offseason workout regime, in which the entire team would get up at 6:30 a.m. every day and participate in a wide range of exercises. U trainers worked the team every which way possible, from heavy lifting to wind sprints and agility drills. This ruthless offseason preparation, combined with a consistent regime during the season, has the Utes healthier than ever this season.

“It’s not nearly as wearing on us as previous seasons-at least not yet,” Dangerfield said. “I think our summer workouts have a lot to do with that, too. The more you’re in shape, the less likely your body will be injured.”

The Utes have maintained their conditioning throughout the season with regular early-morning workouts and a plethora of after-practice stretches.

“We do shoulder rehab every day and our trainers are the best,” Webb said.

And what exactly does that shoulder rehab consist of?

“That basically is a bunch of different exercises that focus on strengthening the smaller muscles in the shoulder,” Webb said. “It helps us recover much quicker because we’re hitting a lot of balls every day.”

Aside from shoulder rehab, the Utes have a personal trainer, John Webster, who comes to practice once a week. Webster comes in to help the team with certain aspects of the game, namely agility.

“John helps us out a lot,” Dangerfield said. “If something is bothering us, like some of us have lower back problems, he just cuts down on certain exercises that put a lot of stress on that region. Instead, he focuses on drills to make it better instead of worse.”

With all the preparation the Utes went through and all the aid they get from personal trainers, volleyball is still a sport of dives and blocks-so it’s never surprising to hear that a player is hurting.

“Everybody’s working hard and each position has different demands,” said setter Sydney Anderson. “The outsides are bangin’ balls, our middles are blocking everything and our defensive specialists are diving all over the place, so it’s just something that everyone has to deal with.”

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