Yogi's leadership highlights recent win streak
Oct. 23, 2011
Mary Kusek, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- When the Texas Longhorns Volleyball team made its third consecutive run to the NCAA final four last year, then-junior Sydney Yogi had to support her team from the sidelines, a role she eventually came to value after going down with an injury midway through the 2010 season.
“Once you learn that this is about the team -- it’s not about you, it’s not you feeling sorry for yourself -- it really helps you learn how to give without necessarily being able to contribute,” Yogi said. “So I think that just tested my strengths as a person to be able to be strong and not break down.”
And it’s with that resolve that Yogi is anchoring UT’s defensive back line in 2011. Consistent passing is one of the ingredients to consistent and efficient hitting percentages, and UT currently leads the Big 12 in hitting percentage in league matches.
Since dropping a five-set roller coaster on the road to Oklahoma in late September, the Longhorns have reeled off six-straight victories – the most recent a straight-sets triumph against Missouri on Saturday evening at Gregory Gym. During that stretch, UT has not hit worse than .276, and the Longhorns have hit better than .400 twice – a season-best .463 at Kansas State and .431 against the Tigers.
“When we’re passing well, we’re able to (set up) any hitter we want. It helps when we can get them one-on-ones and some easier swings,” said Yogi, whose nine digs led UT against Missouri. “But it’s funny because even in games when we don’t pass well, our hitters are so physical that it makes up for it, even when they don’t have perfect passes. We still need to remember that we have to do our part and keep improving that.”
After being cleared to work out in the offseason, Yogi was anxious to get back on the court. While her teammates were in spring workouts, she was in the training room doing exercises, running in water and building up her strength. Adjustments to her exercise routine allowed her to participate in summer runs with her teammates, an activity that produced a leaner, faster Longhorns team in 2011.
“A lot of it was on her own plate, and going above and beyond their duties to get back on the court,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It’s been fun to see (Yogi) be able to sustain such a high level of play and continue to get better and better each week as she gets more acclimated to playing again.”
Yogi leads the Longhorns in digs, and she has also helped the Longhorns from behind the service line, using pin-point placement to keep opponents on their heels. Her 13 aces are the second most on the team. But after spending most of last season cheering from the sidelines, the role of leader was one that Yogi had to earn by setting an example.
“We’ve talked a lot about getting confidence back. With missing so much last year, she had to come back and reprove herself,” Elliott said. “The only thing that can gain that confidence of the team is the way she approaches practice and the way she goes about her daily activities. She was phenomenal in the preseason and she came right out of the gates ready to take that spot.”
Veteran guidance has been an essential element of the process of finding a team identity this season for a squad that features three freshmen making an immediate impact. In her senior campaign, Yogi has approached the opportunity to help lead her young team with the same purpose as she did her rehabilitation process.
“She’s been a great leader, confident, calm, demanding, all the things you want from a libero, and it’s been great to see,” Elliott said. “I’m really happy for her.”