Early in the 2018 season, the Salt Lake Community College volleyball team is on a championship drive.
“Our goal is not just to make it to nationals, but to make noise, and win, once we’re there,” says head coach Sue Dulaney.
Those words echo the attitude of the entire team as they head into conference play. Currently ranked No. 4 in the latest NJCAA poll, the undefeated Bruins have come out of the gate on fire, winning their first 13 matches of the season.
“We all have the same goal, and that is to host regionals, and get to nationals,” says sophomore libero Callie Whitney.
As a relatively young team, Coach Dulaney has relied on the ability and leadership of several freshmen to help propel the Bruins to this fast start. Bruna Correa and Hellen Lacava, both international players from Brazil, have contributed to this influx of young talent.
The Bruins are poised for a special season in 2018. As the team heads into conference play, it will be important to not let the early success fluster them and keep focused on the goal at hand. The early success has pegged SLCC as the team to beat in their region.
“We definitely have a target on our back and other teams prepare for us differently,” says Whitney.
While the on-the-court success obviously separates the Bruins from other NJCAA teams, it is also the off-the-court work that really makes Delaney’s team unique.
Coming off last season where the Bruins earned the AVCA Team Academic Award, which is given to teams with a combined grade point average of 3.3 or higher, their goal is to repeat this success while also dominating on the court.
“I recruit for talent obviously, but I also look for girls with good character and good academics,” says Dulaney. “I believe that these characteristics translate onto the court as much as raw talent.”
The Bruins have earned the AVCA Team Academic Award four times during Dulaney’s tenure. This strategy has also paid off on the court, as the Bruins have been a constant contender in the powerful Region 18 of the NJCAA Division I, which includes such teams as last year’s national runner-up, Southern Idaho.
Dulaney looks to add her 10th region title, and first national title. If Bruins continue to bring the level of play that got them to 13-0, they will set themselves up for a chance to claim the top spot.
SLCC will play in the CSN Tournament this Friday and Saturday in Henderson, Nevada. Their first Scenic West Athletic Conference match will be Sept. 21 versus USU Eastern in Price.