Photos special to Fighting Hawks Magazine
The 2017 UND volleyball team is set for another run at the Big Sky title but for seniors Faith Dooley and Sydney Griffin, that isn’t enough. The middle hitter and setter came into a different program than the one they will leave after the season.
These two have brought toughness and competitiveness to the next level in the Fighting Hawks program. Dooley and Griffin pushed the limits and claimed a conference tournament championship in 2016. This season UND swept the Rebel Invitational and beat the host, Ole Miss, convincingly. At this pace, Dooley and Griffin will end their careers with something greater than a conference title.
Fighting Hawks Magazine: What brought you to UND?
Faith Dooley: “I would say the homeliness; it was very welcoming and family-like all over town. The fun atmosphere at the hockey and basketball games that I attended before I came here, and even when I came to camps, it felt like home.”
FHM: Do you think the program has changed under Mark Pryor?
FHM: How do you get the younger players to buy-in?
FD: “We preach that 100 percent, even if you’re not on the floor, you win the championship or the game the day before at practice or the weeks and months before. You don’t necessarily have to be on the court playing a game. Once we get all the players to understand that, it changed completely. They push each other in practice every single day. Leading by example and including them and not making them feel that they’re younger than us and that we’re all one is a big thing.”
FHM: Is the potential to get where you were at last year still there?
FD: “Oh, yeah.”
Fighting Hawks Magazine: Did anything change here as you and your coach developed alongside the team?
Sydney Griffin: “Honestly, the transition my freshman year was a little rough because I think eight of us came in that had no idea how Ashley (Hardee) coached. We committed to him but we didn’t really know. We were following Mark Pryor and the other half of the squad was still in Ash’s mindset. It just didn’t click my freshman year. And Mark kept saying, ‘Follow the process,’ and it finally paid off last year.”
FHM: What is following the process?
SG: “Just working hard and doing the little things right. Previously, they had seniority rules and you had your Sydney GriffIn spot saved for you. Now, we have to work for our spots and nothing is guaranteed.”
FHM: Last year, the team had record-breaking success. Where is there room for improvement this season?
SG: “I think last year we took a few matches off in our preseason that we could have won and may have gotten us a higher seed in the tournament. That’s probably the biggest thing that we’ll take away–taking every match seriously and not just waiting for conference play.”
FHM: Is the potential for this team on par with last year’s team?