August 22, 2017 8:08:49 PM
Roxanne Hernandez is good in transition.
You might expect the office of someone who is at the end of preseason and nearly ready to start her first season as a college head coach to be a little more unsettled. Take into consideration Hernandez is going to have to relocate to a new office across campus above the student bookstore and you most likely would cut Hernandez some slack if things were a little out of sorts.
Aside from a brown cardboard box stacked into a bigger one on the left wall, Hernandez's office looks to be in place. That bodes well for a Mississippi University for Women volleyball program that will celebrate its return to intercollegiate athletics this weekend.
MUW will play West Florida at 10 a.m. Saturday at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama. It also will play West Alabama at noon and Wallace State at 2 p.m. Saturday. It will play 14 more matches in September before it plays host to Bevill State Community College at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in its home opener at the Pohl Gymnasium.
Hernandez's team will feature Tori Weir (Columbus High School) and Savannah Thomas, Haley McMurphey, and Cheyenne Ruth (Caledonia High) and Kayla King as part of the 15-player roster. King's hometown is listed as Caledonia, but her high school is listed as Pelham (Ala.) High. Eleven of the players are from the state of Mississippi. Three more are from Alabama, while Loren Schmitt is from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.
Hernandez, who served as an assistant volleyball coach at LIU Post University in New York and as a graduate assistant at Dowling College, was the first coach MUW hired last October as it started the process to bring intercollegiate athletics back to the school. Hernandez also worked as a coach of the 13 Red girls team at The Island Volleyball Academy in Long Island, New York.
As a player, Hernandez saw action in 104 matches in her four-year career (2010-13) at Canisius, which is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) and is located in Buffalo, New York. A native of Medford, New York, Hernandez had more than 130 kills in each of her last two seasons at Canisius. She improved her block total each year, and finished with 115 total (15 solo) as a senior.
Hernandez said the players have digested all of the team and school rules and have impressed her in the first few practices. She said the Owls "set the bar pretty high" on the first day of practice, so she said she has been a little tougher on them to prepare them for the sprint to the start of the season.
"It has been good," Hernandez said. "I have had a lot of surprising emerging leaders I wasn't expecting. For the most part, they get along really well off the court. We are working on making that click on the court now."
Hernandez anticipates using players in different positions in the first three matches. She likes the skills the Owls have displayed at practice. Hernandez said some players even have flip-flopped spots and are willing to take on new roles.
With classes set to start Thursday and the volleyball team's first matches set for Saturday, Hernandez said the players have handled a lot of new challenges in a short amount of time. She said the pace will pick up this week as the countdown continues to the first action.
"I feel like a lot of them don't know what to expect," Hernandez said. "They have come from all different backgrounds as far as playing. Haley might be the only one (who it will be different for) because she has prior college game experience (at Jefferson-Davis Community College in Alabama), but you never know what to expect when you step on the court for the first time for your first college game. I think this weekend is going to be a great opportunity for them to kind of get a taste of what they can expect for the rest of the season. I am excited. I am anxious. I have all of those emotions."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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