COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: UTPB looking to get back to winning ways

The UTPB volleyball team returns to action this week to begin the season and the Falcons are hoping that this year is different.

The Falcons are coming off a record that saw them go 11-16 overall, 6-10 in Lone Star Conference play, last year.

UTPB’s senior setter Devin Alcoser and her teammates are anxious to prove something this year.

“We’re pretty excited,” Alcoser said. “We’ve been in the gym during the summer when we could. We’ve been pretty ready to finally get on to conference play.”

The Falcons will begin their season at a two-day tournament in San Angelo, facing Huston Tillotson at 10 a.m. Sept. 1 before facing University of the Southwest later in the day at 4 p.m.

UTPB will wrap up the weekend with games against Henderson State and Angelo State on Sept. 2.

One of the reasons the Falcons can be better this year is their depth.

“We’re looking to be deeper and I think we’ve done that with recruiting,” Loesch said who enters his eighth year with the program. “We had a good season last year but we had a couple of injuries and we weren’t able to finish as strong as we were hoping. We played hard and I was proud of the effort. This year, we have some players that are coming off the bench if we get in a situation like that who will step right in and help the team continue with our momentum.”

The excitement level remains high for Loesch and his players as they begin another season.

“The excitement level is very high,” Loesch said. “We had some scrimmages this past weekend. The team was happy to play against somebody besides themselves. They’re eager to play this weekend at the tournament. The team is pumped. They’re healthy and working hard.”

The Falcons’ first home game will be against Minnesota-Crookston at 4 p.m. Sept. 7.

“We’re trying to win all our home games,” Alconser said. “I think we can do it with our new players. We’re hoping to make it to conference tournament too.”

While depth will be a strength this year for UTPB, Loesch also pointed out the team’s chemistry.

“Our team chemistry is very good,” Loesch said. “That’ll be another strength. We’re still working on our offense. It’s not quite where we’d like it to be. Our defense is doing well. I’m happy with that. We’ll find out more this week when we have some real tests.”

As always, the Falcons will have a challenging conference to deal with this year as defending NCAA Division II National Champion (and Lone Star Conference winner) West Texas A&M looks to make another run this fall.

However, UTPB will also get a chance to see some conference opponents in the early season tournaments before Lone Star play begins.

The Falcons will officially begin conference play at 2 p.m. Sept. 23 against Angelo State at Falcon Dome.

“We’re using these next three weekends to really get used to playing at a high level,” Loesch said. “We open conference play at Angelo State. We’re going to have to bring it every week for all the Lone Star Conference teams. We’ll see a few of them during the tournaments before conference play starts. But it’s great that we have this opportunity to tweak our lineups.”

As the Falcons prepare for another season, the players know they can’t dwell on what went wrong last year.

“It starts in practice,” Alconser said. “We’re trying to do all that we can in practice. We’re trying not to dwell on the past or anything like that. We’re going to work hard every game and every point so that we can beat that nasty record from last year.”