Campus Beat Reporter
According to women’s volleyball coach Nicole Welch, this year, U.C. Santa Barbara’s women’s volleyball team experienced a “historic run.” After going 23-6 in the overall season and making it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) playoffs, they were eliminated in the second round to No. 2 seed Texas. Despite their season being cut short, Welch spoke highly of the season and her team’s success in an interview with The Bottom Line.
The daughter of Santa Barbara natives, Welch has an extensive background in volleyball. She began her competitive career (specifically beach volleyball) in the sixth grade in a town near San Diego before attending and playing volleyball at the University of Maryland. After college, Welch was offered a coaching position at UCSB. “It was my dream job,” Welch stated.
Welch was asked to describe some of the highs and the lows of the season that students may or may not have seen. According to Welch, “We had an excellent season. Beating UCLA and Cal Poly at home were amazing.” A low she mentioned was losing to Texas in the playoffs; it was “difficult but we will remember it forever.”
Although winning is important, Welch made it clear that it is not everything. “Winning is great but it prompts our team to want to continue to work hard.” In other words, teams must not get distracted and reflect too much on a win.
At the end of the season, athletes on the team celebrate the end to a successful year with team awards. When asked about the honors that are given to athletes at the end of the season, Welch explained that a group of coaches has a collective vote on who will receive what. “I was a bit surprised we didn’t get more conference recognition, but you have to move past that and not let it discourage you.”
When questioned about her goals for the upcoming seasons, Welch states that she wants to focus on improving two very specific things: the team dynamic and attendance from the student body.
She believes that every girl on the team must contribute in some way, whether it is playing in the game or preparing for it by practicing with her teammates. In Welch’s words, the contribution is rewarding. With that being said, Welch definitely wants to evolve a fast offense and work on quick and accurate passing. This will allow the younger players to evolve their skills and keep going.
As far as attendance, Welch explained that she “would love to see more student support.” She said, “There is so much immediate action and scoring; having students be wild and excited to be at games makes for a wonderful environment.” She stated that “the first game always has a strong turnout” and she would love to find a way to continue that.
“My team has a handful of values that we go by,” said Welch. “Commitment is number one, and communication, determination, confidence and happiness are very important.”
Welch explained that her student-athletes will play regardless of whether or not they get paid (college athletes are not paid), which makes for a good and honest environment.
While the season just ended, Welch and her team are looking ahead to next year. “We had a historic run this year. We have a lot of good young talent and we’re excited to represent the Gauchos in the best way possible.”