A road trip due west has very different meanings for the members of the Ohio volleyball team.
For some, anything beyond the Mississippi River can prove to be a foreign land, but for others, the west is their true home.
That’s why when Ohio takes off on Thursday for a three-game tournament in Norman, Oklahoma, playing against Lamar, Oklahoma University and The University of Texas at San Antonio, a quick pit-stop will be in order.
“I’m looking forward to briefly going through my home state of Texas,” Ohio coach Deane Webb said of traveling through the state he was raised in. He received degrees at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and University of North Texas.
But not only are the Bobcats just passing through Texas, they’ll feast there too.
Webb said the Bobcats will have a family dinner – a gathering they normally have at Webb’s home during the season – this time at Brooke Coleman’s hometown of Plano, Texas and afterward will drive up to Oklahoma for the series.
Coleman, a senior libero on the Bobcats who struggled with concussion problems all last season, will finally be able to fulfill a dream of being on the court and seeing friends and family pop-up throughout the arena.
And against three physically imposing opponents – especially Oklahoma, being in a Power 5 conference – that can intimidate young players, Coleman will be expected to show her maturity.
“She has really taken off,” Webb said of Coleman. “I think as a leader, she brings a sense of calm. But more importantly, we really like who she is as a person and what she does for the people around her.”
Coleman was Ohio’s first academic captain and is, as Webb called her, “the definition of a student athlete.”
Receiving passes from Coleman this weekend will be freshman outside hitter Lizzie Stephens, who also calls Texas home, growing up in Frisco, just 25 minutes away from Coleman’s hometown of Plano.
Stephens climbed the record book with her ability to rack up kills in the opening games of the season, but she is still finding her way as an attacker, which isn’t easy on a team that isn’t used to losing.