All it took was a re-introduction and a productive conversation.
Virginia volleyball coach Shannon Wells and Cavaliers outside hitter GG Carvacho, a transfer from Ole Miss, each said they knew they had to work together after Carvacho entered his name into the portal of transfer and that Wells contacted the former member of the rebels.
“I had a phone call with her and every time we reconnected she was like, ‘I feel like I’ve been watching you forever,’ Carvacho said, ‘” and I followed your career since you were younger and with the things you do, I know I can help you.
Wells, who is now gearing up for her second season in charge of the Hoos, said in her former position as assistant coach for Florida, she began recruiting and evaluating Carvacho as the now 6-foot-3 junior n was only 14 years old. Carvacho grew up in Dallas before her family moved to Gallatin, Tennessee – north of Nashville – where she became a star at Station Camp High School before continuing her career at Ole Miss.
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“And we had to play her in Florida,” Wells said, “and knowing the scouting report, I’m like, ‘God, she’s your prototype on the outside. [hitter]. This is what your exterior should look like. She has the skills and the physique and the reach and everything, so when she walked into the portal, it was exciting for me because I had done so much research on her before she went to Ole Miss.
“I knew who she was as a person, what she could bring,” Wells continued, “and it’s more than volleyball because we’re trying to do something special here and it’s going to take the right person, not just a great volleyball player.”
Carvacho, who recorded 180 kills in her first season with the Rebels before battling injuries last fall, said she appreciates how her UVa teammates have accepted her and plans to share with them some of his valuable experiences in sport while trying to lead by example. .
In addition to proven success at the SEC, Carvacho learned lifelong lessons in an athletic family. His dad played college football and coached in MLS, his mom played varsity hoops and so did his older brother. She also said that she matured on the volleyball court when she was part of the Chilean national under-20 team a few summers ago. Her father grew up in Chile and she has dual nationality there.
“We played against Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic,” Carvacho said, “and it’s really high level volleyball, and they play with a lot of passion, so to see that at a younger age because that I was 17 or 18 and playing with 20 year olds, it was really good for me to see the passion they had.
She said she also plays the sport with a passion, and Wells said Carvacho’s attitude suits the Cavaliers perfectly.
“Who she is as a person, what she says in the locker room,” Wells said, “her leadership and her vision to be great, she wants volleyball long after she’s been at UVa and I think that’s It’s something really special and unique and something we’re really trying to implement into our program.
UVa is coming off a season in which it went 8-20 overall and 1-17 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Wells said his club is on course for improvement from a strong offseason of progress and the integration of important newcomers like Carvacho in the list. Wells said that in the past UVa players have gone home over the summer, but this year the team returned in June and was able to pick up where they left off in spring training. without losing the information she expected from them.
In addition to Carvacho, her former teammate and setter Ole Miss Gabby Easton, former Wake Forest outside hitter Chloe Wilson and All-American Division II center blocker Veresia Yon (West Florida) joined the Hoos.
Wells said Easton provided competition for returning passer Ashley Le, the Cavaliers’ 2021 leader in assists. Le, senior center blocker Mattison Matthews and libero Madison Morey, the team captain, have all improved their skills throughout the offseason, according to Wells.
“I think Morey is going to have a really good breakout year,” Wells said, “…and [Le’s] improvement from where she was in December to where she is now, she looks like a completely different player and I think she allows us to completely change what we do in our gym from one system element.
Wilson is 6-foot-4 and being taller than Carvacho gives UVa a better chance of competing in the ACC, Wells added.
“If you look at the ACC, we’re just getting bigger,” Wells said. “We’re getting more and more athletic and I’ve been in programs that have been top five in the country and you need size and physique and athleticism to do it at the top level.
“There are different ways to win volleyball games,” she said, “so every athlete needs to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. In our gym now, it’s fun because it’s what GG can do is very different from what [outside hitter] Brooklyn Borum can do 6 feet. So understanding their strengths and weaknesses and how they can perform on the pitch is going to be important and it gives our team a unique perspective when other teams are watching us.
The Cavaliers open their regular season Aug. 26 against East Tennessee State in a multi-team event in Florida, where they will also face the nationally ranked Gators and North Florida as Wells returns to Gainesville. Their non-conference roster also includes Xavier, Charlotte and Maryland ahead of the ACC game, starting Sept. 23 at home against NC State. UVa hosts 2021 National Semi-Finalist Pittsburgh on September 28.
“We know what to expect in every game and this team believes in themselves,” Wells said, “and I think we’ll have a really good [nonconference] calendar and have good prospects for the fall. I think they understand what it takes to win and they’re really confident in what they’re doing, and the work they’re doing is going to help them get more wins this year.
Said Carvacho: “We try to improve by one percent every day and you can see that in all my teammates and the coaching staff, the support staff and everyone. They’re all, ‘What can we do to improve by one percent today?’ And I think victory can be the result.