Auburn volleyball coach says ‘buy-in’ through the roof for his youngest team


AUBURN, Alabama — The Auburn team that struggled more than any before a coaching change is now showing multiple signs of progress under the leadership of Brent Crouch. If Auburn’s optimistic volleyball head coach is right, better days are coming for the Tigers, both short and long term.

Moving to Auburn to take over a team that finished 7-22 overall and 1-17 in the SEC in 2019, his timing for the move wasn’t ideal with all the restrictions in place his first season due to pandemic protocols. this limited the ability of the coaching staff to interact with their players and recruit new ones.

After wrapping up a busy 2022 summer camp season, the Tigers are preparing to open their scheduled 2022 on Aug. 26 at a four-team event in Atlanta.

Crouch said he’s excited to see what the Tigers can do after improving their record from 13-15 overall last year and 5-13 in the SEC. For that to happen, the team will need a lot of help from the freshmen, who hold seven of the 13 spots on the roster.

“Camps really are the last thing we haven’t done since we’ve been here,” Crouch said of the events that brought hundreds of volleyball players to Neville Arena this summer to work with staff. from Auburn. “It feels like our hands are untied, but it also feels like a fresh start for me and our program.”

His comment about a fresh start makes perfect sense. “It’s the youngest team I’ve ever coached,” Crouch said. “The closest thing to that is my freshman year as a head coach at the University of Portland which had a great freshman class when I was hired in January and worked with them in the spring. They were in second grade that first fall.

“It was what you would expect when you have young people – lots of energy, lots of emotions, everything is new all the time. It’s a lot of fun, but there’s also a range of emotions. They want to do well right away, but they’re going to have their ups and downs, and learning to deal with that will be the big challenge and it’s exciting.

After moving to Auburn from Southern Cal, to say Crouch took over a team with a talent shortage would not only be true, it would be an understatement. He admitted his first season at Auburn, which he calls “the covid year,” the focus was on “just surviving.” However, that has changed.

“The talent is good and I think they know that,” he said of his current players. “They have expectations and managing them in their first year will be my job because it’s a four-year journey for them. They will be so much better in November than they are in September.

“In terms of pure athleticism, size and physicality, we’re going to be six-foot-six through the middle, 6-3 outside and 6-2 and 6-2. Overall height will be better, speed will be better, power will be better. It’s all really high level.

“There are players in the team who could be part of any team in the country,” the coach said. “I really believe that. It’s how fast can they acclimate, how fast can they learn? You just can’t take shortcuts – it takes as many days as it takes.

A goal for the 2022 season is to finish with a winning overall record and continue the team’s overall progression as a program. “Last year I think the players did their best given where they were in their development,” the coach said. “I think there’s been a lot of progress in the program with culture, expectation and buy-in. I thought we’ve taken a big step forward with that. The buy-in is now through the roof I couldn’t want it to be any higher.

“These are players who have been in the program for two or three years, who know what the expectations are and why we are doing things and are there, or freshmen who have bought it themselves when they have accepted my (scholarship) offer two years ago. It looks like a new start, but a start with a very good base.

The foundation includes potential immediate difference makers in the freshman class, such as six-foot-six center tackle Kendal Kemp, 6-3 Akasha Anderson, 6-2 Bel Zimmerman and 6-1 Madison Scheer with 5 -8 Libero Sarah Morton . Among the 6-0 senior returning players, Rekekah Rath is expected to be a team leader after a strong 2021 season.

Asked what would make him a happy coach at the end of the 2022 season, Crouch said: “The first thing would be that there is a substantial improvement in their skills and they love volleyball more than they don’t. do it now. If we have those two things, the wins will take care of themselves.

*** Subscribe: Get the latest news and scoops from Auburn***


About Author

Comments are closed.