July 21, 2011
Senior Hailey Cowles is entering her final season with the Golden Gopher volleyball team. Last year, the Eden Prairie, Minn., native was sidelined for the entire season due to an injury. Coming off a successful junior campaign the outside hitter is ready for the 2011 season. In 2009, Cowles played in 35 of 36 matches on the season and averaged 2.71 dps, 1.46 kps and 0.24 saps in her 125 sets played. She finished the year on the NCAA All-Tournament Team when she had a team-high 12 kills in the NCAA Final Four. Here's a short question and answer session as Cowles and the rest of the Golden Gophers prepare for the season.
Gophersports.com: The last time you played collegiate volleyball dates back to 2009. How difficult was it for you to sit last year?
Hailey Cowles: Last year was a very difficult time in my career. I have never been hurt until I tore my ACL and having to deal with surgery and rehab, along with not playing volleyball for months on end was very new to me. I have never taken more than a month off from volleyball since I was probably 12. I did, however, try to take the positives out of the situation. I learned how to become a better teammate and how to lead off the court. I took it as a time to learn and grow as a person.
GS: Seeing the game from a different perspective, how did that help you as a player, on and off the court?
HC: You can learn a lot from just watching the game. I had a lot of opportunity to do this in the fall. Every practice and every match I began to see what the coaches wanted out of us as athletes. I really feel like having sat out the entire 2010 season really made me appreciate the game again. I really feel that have an appreciation for every opportunity I have to be on the court.
GS: We've had some new coaches come in since last season. What changes have they made and how did it translate in the spring season?
HC: The new coaching staff has been amazing. They are making a lot of system changes and technical changes for the Gopher program. It is a learning process and took almost all spring for us as a whole to begin to see the benefits of those changes. I think a lot of people will like our new style of play come fall. We have been and will continue to work hard and continue to get better.
GS: You've been around most of the summer. What have you been up to?
HC: I have been on campus all summer, along with most of the team. I’m not taking classes this summer so I am just rehabbing, running, lifting, playing volleyball and enjoying some free time. It has been a good summer so far.
GS: Along with Mia Tabberson, you've been named a team captain. What does the word captain mean to you?
HC: Being a captain to me doesn't mean you are above anyone on a team. Captain means just some more responsibility. It is up to Mia and I to get workouts set up, open gyms, and help our teammates with any questions or issues they may be having. We are just here to help guide our team in the right direction.
GS: What are you most excited about in your final season with the Gophers?
HC: I am most excited for just playing in front of our home crowd again! It’s been a while and it’s an amazing feeling.