After spending his first season as a redshirt and seeing limited duty in 2010, sophomore Carl Eberts has stepped into the starting lineup at outside hitter for the Men's Volleyball team and, if his play to date is any indication, has no plans to leave anytime soon. With a team-leading 96 kills while hitting at a .235 clip through the first 10 matches (including big wins over UC Irvine and Hawaii), Eberts has played a big role in UCSD's jump to No. 15 in the national rankings. "Carl is probably our most versatile outside hitter and carries a big load for us attacking out both the front and back row," says Head Coach Kevin Ring. "He's come up big in most of the matches we've won." The 6-5 Huntington Beach native took time recently to talk about his volleyball background and the evolution of his position on the UCSD team.
Q-How big of a factor was volleyball in your decision to attend UCSD over other schools? What was attractive about the UCSD Volleyball program?
EBERTS-Volleyball was a major factor in my decision to attend UCSD. I had always known I wanted to play a sport in college and major in engineering so UCSD provided that opportunity. Honestly, the most attractive thing about the UCSD Volleyball program was it was the only program that offered to sign me and guarantee my admittance to the school.
Q-In high school you played basketball, football, baseball and volleyball. Which did you consider yourself best at and why did you ultimately focus on volleyball?
EBERTS-I believe I was best at volleyball, which, coupled with the fact that I enjoyed it the most, is why I ultimately decided to focus on volleyball.
Q-What sport compares the most to volleyball?
EBERTS-Basketball compares the most because of the emphasis on jumping.
Q-What was the toughest part of the transition you had to make from playing at the high school level to playing at the collegiate level?
EBERTS-The toughest was probably the increase in the speed of the game, specifically in the timing of sets and passing serves.
Q-What has been the biggest change you've experienced in going from a part-time player last year to a full-time role in 2011?
EBERTS-The biggest change is my back doesn't hurt as much from standing in one place for long periods of time while waiting to go in.
Q-Volleyball is a very team-oriented sport and being in sync as a group is critical. Can you talk about some of the different elements that have to be coordinated for a team to play at peak efficiency?
EBERTS-Well, the classic phrase is "It starts with a pass", but then no matter how good of pass is made the setter has to make a good set in order to give the hitter a reasonable chance to get a kill. There is also a team aspect to serving in that if people in front of you are missing serves there is more pressure to make yours, but if everyone is consistently making theirs, it frees you to go after your serve more.
Q-How does last year's team compare to this year's team so far?
EBERTS-This year's team is obviously a lot younger, but I think that it is a more cohesive group than last year.
Q-What is it like playing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) where you are going up against the upper echelon teams basically every night?
EBERTS-It's tough, but I enjoy it. It's better than the alternative extreme of beating up on lower echelon teams every night and never being challenged.
Q-You are a redshirt sophomore and have been with the team for three years. What was your redshirt season like and what has changed in the overall growth of the program from then until now?
EBERTS-My redshirt season was an interesting experience because I wasn't used to not continually getting to play in practice and games aren't the same knowing you have no chance of playing. The program has definitely grown since then as can be seen by the increased number of recruits we have coming in.
Q- What aspect of your game has Coach Ring helped you improve the most in since joining UCSD?
EBERTS-I would probably have to say passing.
Q-With the availability of senior setter Phil Bannan and freshman Mike Brunsting, UCSD has utilized a 6-2 system on occasion this year as opposed to the standard 5-1. Which system do you prefer? What differences have you noticed between the two setters?
EBERTS-I like them both for different reasons. I like the 5-1 because I get to hit more of Phil's sets, but I also like the fact that having three hitters front row in the 6-2 system often pulls the middle blocker away from me hitting on the outside. Phil is just an amazing setter compared to anyone, so I think Mike would agree it's not exactly fair to compare their differences. That being said, Mike's already done an amazingly good job this year. He's definitely been blessed with those Brunsting genes...
Q-Has being a co-captain of this year's squad changed your role on the team? What responsibilities come with that?
EBERTS-Yes, there is definitely more responsibility in making sure practice goes well and I have to remember to choose receive when we win the pregame toss.
Q-What has been your sweetest moment so far this year?
EBERTS-I would have to say blocking Jonas (Umlauft) of Hawaii straight down on Friday was my sweetest moment thus far.
Q-Your favorite professional sports team is the L.A. Lakers, what are your thoughts on their quest at attempting to "three peat?"
EBERTS-I always believe they will win the championship. It's been a little rough lately but as always they'll turn it on in the playoffs.
Q-Being a mechanical engineering major, how difficult has it been to balance your time between academics and being a collegiate athlete?
EBERTS-It's a challenge during season missing classes when we travel for away games, but I find being busy in the fall makes me more productive.
Q-What do you hope to accomplish volleyball-wise before graduating from UCSD?
EBERTS-I hope to
make it to the playoffs and ultimately win the championship.
Q-Do you expect to still play volleyball after your collegiate playing days are over?
EBERTS-As of now I don't have set expectations as to what I'll do after I graduate, but playing volleyball overseas is definitely a possibility.
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