In advance of the Virginia volleyball home opener tonight against Western Kentucky, I had the chance to sit down with first-year outside hitter Natalie Bausback for a quick interview.
Bausback hails from Carlsbad, California where she played at La Costa Canyon High School. For the geographically-challenged amongst you, Carlsbad is on the coast about 30 miles north of San Diego and about 60 miles south of Anaheim.
Natalie comes by her athleticism honestly. Her grandfather was a two-sport athlete at Nebraska, competing in both football and basketball for the Cornhuskers. Her father, Kurt, was a rower at San Diego State who competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Her older brother Luke plays volleyball at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA (which, incidentally, is my father's alma mater).
With that type of pedigree, it's no surprise that Bausback has earned her share of accolades. Her La Costa Canyon squads won the San Diego Section CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Championships and they made it to the Division II State final one of her four years. In 2011, Prep Volleyball named her to the High School All-America First Team.
With all of that out of the way, let's get to the (admittedly brief) interview, shall we?
Streaking the Lawn: Tell me a little bit about what it was like to be recruited by Coach Maes and then find out that he wouldn't be there and Coach Hohenshelt would be Virginia's head coach.
Natalie Bausback: It wasn't too bad. It was a frustrating time where you don't know who your coach is going to be. But I remember I was at school when I found out that it was going to be Coach Hohenshelt from Penn State and so I got excited. And then I found out about [assistant coaches] Stevie [Mussie] and Aaron [Smith] and I was even more excited.
STL: That leads into my next question a little bit - one that I like to ask just about everyone because I love hearing the answers: Why Virginia?
NB: Academics was a big thing for me. And the campus was just beautiful. When I came to visit, I just knew it was the right place for me. And the volleyball program, of course. But I knew that I wanted a place where I would still be happy if I got injured and I couldn't play anymore. Virginia was definitely that place.
STL: As an alum, that type of answer makes me smile. So tell me a little bit about your first competition as a collegiate athlete and having it be on the road like it was last weekend.
NB: That was intense. Playing Colorado State on their home court was great. There were probably 4000 fans there [STL: Good guess on her part - attendance was 3957] and the place was really loud. It was everything that I had dreamed about since I was in high school.
STL: And now this weekend you've got your home opener. What are your expectations for playing here at home?
NB: I hope it's loud and we have a lot of people come out. I also hope that we as a team play with a lot of energy. If we can do that, I think we'll be successful.
STL: What do you think about the new locker rooms here in Mem Gym? [At this point her eyes get really big as if someone had just given her a great birthday present]
NB: Oh my gosh, it's awesome. Really fantastic. More than I could have hoped for.
STL: Anything else you want to add about the team?
NB: We're definitely getting better. I just hope we play with a lot of energy. If we do that, I really think we can go places.
And there you have it folks. First-year outside hitter Natalie Bausback.
The Cavaliers have their home opener tonight against Western Kentucky at 7pm as part of the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup. They follow that up with Lehigh tomorrow at 1pm and Delaware tomorrow at 7pm. All games are at Memorial Gymnasium.
I know there are a lot of people coming into town this weekend for the football game. I urge you all to go out to Mem Gym and support this team for at least one of their three matches this weekend. I know we won't have 4000 screaming fans like Colorado State did last weekend, but showing our support for this program will go a long way to helping them become the type of team that they want to become.