With zero returning starters and a new coach, the UCSD women’s volleyball team will turn to a mix of returnees and newcomers in 2005. One key returnee is 5-foot-10 middle blocker Brianna Koche. The San Jose native made the most of her 31 games last season with 2.06 kills per game and a .379 hitting percentage. The Tritons are ranked 13th in the preseason CSTV/AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 and will open the season on August 25th at the Cal State Dominguez Hills Tournament in Carson, Calif. Koche recently took time to discuss the upcoming season and life as a student-athlete on the volleyball team.
Q- What have you been doing over the summer?
KOCHE- There are several freshman on this year’s team, so many went home. For those who stayed around campus, we were doing the lifting and conditioning on our own. I was actually training with Katie Hogan throughout the summer.
Q- What are some goals for this season?
KOCHE- To win. My goal is always to win and I love to compete. I don’t think our goal has changed this season... it may be a rebuilding year, but look what we have. We should be able to push and win.
We want to show people who we are... I think we are underdogs this year due to graduating all of our starters and having a new coaching staff. Many outsiders have never seen me play, or several others on the team.
Q- What do you think of the CCAA women’s volleyball preseason poll which has UCSD ranked fifth?
KOCHE- That’s interesting because we beat some of the teams ahead of us in the spring. I don’t mind the ranking because when we beat the teams ahead of us, it will be that much sweeter.
Q- You went to the same high school as Katie Hogan. Did she recruit you to come here?
KOCHE- Katie and I are similar in that we are both shorter middles. A lot of middles end up moving to outside when they go to college. The middles at D-I schools are 6-foot-5. I wanted to play middle and I had heard about the UCSD program and came down to visit Katie. I ended up just loving it here. The beach is right there and I knew I wanted to come to San Diego. She told me about the program and really sold it... I love it here.
Q- What players may surprise people with their play this season?
KOCHE- Amber Ries will be a big force in the front row because she has been hitting so well in practice and she’s a huge block on the outside. Nicole Courtney has excellent ball control and is a consistent hitter on the outside. The freshmen to watch out for would be Kimberly Carpenter and Michelle Torres. Our back row will be solid with Natalie Facchini and Laura Watkins returning.
Q- What do you like about head coach Tom Black?
KOCHE-I love that he pushes us hard everyday in practice and expects nothing but the best from all of us. When Duncan was coaching here, there was not that competitive aspect of practice, and that’s what I really love. I love to compete.
With Tom’s practices, I look forward to them because I know I will be competing.
Tom uses the cauldron and every stat gets recorded in practice and games. I like it because it can show you what areas you need to work on. The cauldron works well with our team. We do not have the talent of a Bonnie Wilson or Teresa Ohta, so we need to compete and have that fight in us... and that’s one of the things that drives us.
Q- Have any funny stories involving Tom yet?
KOCHE- Hannah Gary and I would write him notes about how we wanted to join the cheerleading team. We’d tell him when the tryouts were, how we were practicing at Muir Field because there was a cheerleading camp going on and the head cheer coach was talking to us, asking us to tryout... and then we’d tell Tom that we would miss the San Bernardino Tournament... funny stuff like that.
We really want to see Tom dance. The coaching staff agreed that if we go undefeated, then they will dance for us... that I get to choreograph. That’s enough motivation to go undefeated this season.
Q- Who is the leader, biggest talker, funniest, best dressed and guy magnet on the team?
KOCHE-I would consider myself as the leader on the team. As for talker, Amber and Nicole talk back and forth in practice... it’s all playful and funny. The funniest on the team is a tie between Hannah and myself. The best dressed would have to be Natalie. I think exactly half of the girls on the team have boyfriends, so the half without are the guy magnets.
Q- What other activities do you enjoy outside of volleyball?
KOCHE- The team will get together and watch movies together... we really enjoy quoting funny movies. We had a beach day/retreat where we did different team building activities.
As the Glee Club Master, it is a rebuilding year for the Glee Club as well, we will come up with a good routine... I have some things in the works.
Q- Do you like Northern or Southern California?
KOCHE- Before I answer that, let me say that apparently there is this rivalry between Northern and Southern California and Northerners know nothing about it until they move to Southern California.
I like the greenery and foliage of Northern California, but I like the weather down here better. I would say I have become more of a Southern California girl since moving down here... but my roots are still in Northern California.
Q- Do you have any favorite sport teams or individuals?
KOCHE- I like the Giants and 49ers... I enjoy watching beach volleyball... Kerri and Misty. Kerri Walsh went to my high school and I played with both of her sisters... I know the family.
Q- Do you have an idea of what you would like to do with your Communications major?
KOCHE- I am thinking about going into pharmaceutical sales. I know I want to do something that involves working with people. I do not want to be trapped in a cubicle “Office Space” style.
Q- Is it difficult to balance volleyball and academics?
KOCHE- It isn’t difficult for me. I have been doing both since 5th grade... my time-management skills are great. I don’t think it’s hard because we’ve been trained to balance our time from such a young age.