No one would have blamed Virginia volleyball coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton for having doubts entering the 2003
season. Besides, the Cavaliers had won just five Atlantic Coast Conference matches in two previous seasons combined and
compiled an overall mark of just 18-43 in that span.
That didn’t stop Shelton from entering this season with high expectations and aspirations for her team, and they have
proven her right.
Entering the final six regular-season matches, Shelton’s squad has compiled an impressive 20-6 record overall and has
won four ACC matches.
So, where did the turnaround start for the Cavaliers and Shelton?
"I think it really started last spring. We went in saying our goal was to win everything. We kind of had a
different attitude in practice. It was more competitive, and we had a higher level in the gym," said Shelton, who
is in her ninth season. "Our goal is to make everyone on the team believe we are the best team on the court every
time we play, and that seems to have caught on, and winning is a habit."
For the first 20 of the first 26 matches, the Cavaliers have been just that – the best team on the court.
En route to their impressive start, the Cavaliers have re-written the school’s record book. With a 16-0 record to
open the season, the Cavaliers broke two school records, the best start and the longest winning streak in program
While the Cavaliers have seen their schedule get considerably harder since the hot start, Shelton’s squad has
remained positive and currently stands in fifth place in the league.
The winning feeling is not something new for Shelton.
Under her direction, Virginia made the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever in 1998 and returned to the postseason
a year later.
So what is the biggest difference with Shelton’s current squad? Errors — or better yet, the lack of them — on the
"Our number of errors have dropped dramatically. We were getting some great swings from our hitters last year
but the next swing they would take would be an error. We have slowed that down," Shelton said. "We’re hitting
at a real high percentage, and that’s what wins rally-score games. You don’t want to give other team points and we
haven’t been doing that."
Shelton also feels that once...
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