Set, Spike and Stuff with Amanda Blunck and Cassie Conley
During the 2005 Southern Miss Volleyball season, each Lady Eagle will match up with Athletics Media Relations Graduate Assistant Joe Trahan as he serves up questions about life and volleyball.
This week features Libero/Outside Hitter Amanda Blunck and Middle Blocker Cassie Conley. Blunck, a junior from Keenesburg, Colo., has posted 88 kills, 46 assists and 597 digs in her career. Conley, a junior from Savage, Minn., has recorded 117 kills, 35 assists, 171 digs and 68 blocks in her career.
Explain what a libero is and what they do on the court?
“A libero is someone who can go in on defense for two people and serve for one of them. Their main objective is playing defense. You can’t attack the ball. If you jump, you can’t jump above the net.”
Would you say that libero is the hardest position to play?
“No, I think setter is the hardest position to play.”
Like goalies in soccer and hockey, the libero wears a different color jersey than their own team. For volleyball it is the away or home jersey, depending on what their team is wearing. Do you like that approach, or would you rather wear an outrageous color to stand out as the libero?
“Hot pink would be cool, or maybe gold to match our colors.”
You, like others on this team, lettered in basketball in high school. If you were to convert this volleyball team into a basketball team, could you give an idea of who could play what?
“Jazzmien (Stephens) would probably be the post; Kaitlyn (Deutsch) would be a guard; Ashley could be a forward. We could all play something.”
As a fashion merchandising major, it is now your task to design a new Southern Miss volleyball uniform, so what would it look like?
“We may have some sparkles on it! Just kidding. Probably something that is not tight fitting and has more of our colors on it, particularly gold.”
You consistently lead the team in digs, so what is your technique?
“Being in the right spot at the right time; reading the hitter; staying disciplined and knowing where I’m supposed to be.”
Kills, digs, attacks. These volleyball terms sure sound brutal. Do you like them, or would you change them if you could?
“I like them.”
Free time is a rare commodity in sports. So when you have it, what do you look forward to the most during it?
“Sleep and food.”
Is there a big difference between a student and a student-athlete?
“Yes. I think that student-athletes have more on their plate than normal students. Students can go out every night without having to worry about getting up at six in the morning for weight lifting. After class, they can go home on the weekends and don’t have to worry about staying here all the time for practice. They don’t have to worry about getting all of their homework done early due to team travel. We also have to go to class everyday or we’ll be punished and have to run because of it.”
Is there enough drama in a student-athlete’s life to be the next hit reality tv show?
“Heck yeah. It could be called ‘My Life at Southern Miss.’”
When you finish your degree in elementary education and become a teacher, will volleyball be incorporated into the lesson plan?
“Definitely. Especially since a lot of schools don’t offer gym class anymore. I think that exercising and volleyball is very important in education.”
As probably the school’s tallest teacher, how do you think the kids would react?
“Right now I’m student-teaching with a kindergarten class and I always have little girls and little boys tell me that I’m taller than their mom and dad. I think that it makes them more interested because they feel like they can look up to me, literally.”
How special is it that they look up to you as a role model as both an athlete and a teacher?
“I think it’s very important to be a role model to the children because some kids don’t have parents that they can look up to. I would love to be the person that they could look up to because everyone needs someone for guidance.”
Canada (Leslie Robertson), Minnesota (Cassie) and Puerto Rico (Ednali Serralta) are all represented on this team. So who has the best accent?
“I like my accent the best, personally! But I would say that ‘E’s Puerto Rican accent is the best. My accent is starting to become more Southern.”
How much has Mississippi tainted your accent?
“A lot. My friends at home tell me that I’m a ‘Southern Belle’ now, but people here think that I still have the Minnesota accent.”
What are your thoughts on the new C-USA this season?
“The new teams in the conference are tough. I miss the old conference because I had a lot of friends in that conference.”
You are considered to be one of the best blockers on the team. So what does it take to be a good blocker?
“I think blocking comes naturally. Knowing where the ball is coming and jumping high are good techniques for blocking. Having long arms and legs helps too.”
Along with volleyball, you also played basketball and track in high school. What were your positions at each sport, and how did those sports help you in volleyball?
“I ran the 400 meters and 800 meters in track and that helps out in volleyball with endurance and my ability to move quickly on the court. In basketball I played every position and have been playing it since I was three years old. Basketball helped me learn leadership and how to play as a team.”
There’s a rumor that you’re obsessed with Taco Bell. Is this true?
“I love it, but I had to quit going there because I spend way too much money at Taco Bell.”
The greatest thing about Southern Miss volleyball is…
“All of the friends that I’ve made who will probably be the best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”