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Breeann David and the Red Raiders are set to hit the road this weekend for the UT-Arlington Hilton Invitational

September 16, 2011

by Meredith Hillgartner
Texas Tech Athletics Communications

The gym was empty.

The lights were still warming up and only gave a faint glow onto the court- the only sound was that of soft footsteps crossing the floor.

There was a man, in a grey Texas Tech sweatshirt, standing on the other side. He was writing on a white board; planning out the details of the day's practice.

"Coach Flora," a woman yells.

"This is a super important phase. Our goal is to go in this tournament and then our goal is to go take care of business against UNT and we know those goals."

He turns around, sets down his clip board and smiles.

This is where one of the winningest coaches in NCAA volleyball history prepares for a tournament.

Fresh off three consecutive sweeps in the Louisiana Tech Invitational, head volleyball coach Don Flora stays focused, preparing his team for the UT-Arlington Hilton Invitational this weekend, and in a couple of weeks the start of Big 12 conference play.

The Red Raiders swept all four matches in last week's road trip, with wins over Texas Pan-Am, Southeastern Louisiana, Grambling State and Louisiana Tech, walking away as tournament champions.

Accomplishments set aside Coach Flora said success isn't just an achievement on the court but confirmation of the hard work and effort put forth by his team.

"Success is relative in the sense that we're going about our work in the right way," Flora said. "The process and the way we train; we're doing the right things. When you do the right things the outcomes begin to happen-the outcomes that you want."

The Red Raiders were on the road for seven days during their recent trip.

The schedule was not easy, but Flora said his team handled the significant road trip well. They stayed focused and held themselves to a higher standard, allowing them to achieve their goal of coming back with four wins.

"[They had] three [games] in a tournament and another fourth match," Flora said, "This is another sort of challenge in that realm of how do you go about preparing emotionally physically and mentally?

"Those are all important parts of being able to handle another road trip... This is a super important phase. Our goal is to go in this tournament and then our goal is to go take care of business against UNT and we know those goals."

Breeann David, a freshman outside hitter who was awarded Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Monday, said the girls are ready for the next tournament, a feat much easier than their last.

"I'm feeling good because we were gone for a week, so being gone for four days is nothing," David said. "Playing four games in the span of four days is nothing compared to what it was last week. You had to be mentally tough to go in there and just keep playing over the span of a week."

Staying mindful of the amount of work while preparing for another tournament, Flora explained his `less is more' practice technique.

"We'd rather get an intense short amount of work in, than long, mellow work," Flora said. "We talk about being fast and furious in the gym. Let's be fast and furious about getting in and getting out."

Last week against Grambling State, Flora started freshmen Amy Rose and Sam Padroze alongside sophomore Dravon Rangel. To him, the team is playing well enough to spread playing time across the roster.

"Our culture in the gym right now is we've got a lot of people training at a high level," Flora said. "Those athletes earned some time."

However, with only six spots on the court Flora said playing time is not just given but the players have to earn the spot.

"Those rookies have earned that opportunity to play in a live situation," Flora said. "So it was good."

The work is paying off.

Flora hopes to see that continue today when the Red Raiders take on Prairie View A&M in the four-match road trip.




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