Quinci Hayward knows what it takes to be successful. After all, the 6-feet, 5-inch outside hitter was named to the Louisiana All-State Volleyball team all four years of her high school career, and that success has certainly translated on the court at USM.
Hayward has recorded 643 kills in her two years as a Golden Eagle so far, and has become a star on the court. Despite excellent personal accomplishments, including being named to the 2014 Preseason All-Conference Team, Hayward hopes to help improve her team as a whole.
“Personally, I have to become a better blocker and play with greater energy,” Hayward said. “I also must play smarter in order to help my team. There were times last year where we just had mental mistakes, but I think we can overcome those as a group”
Volleyball, a game of momentum, is a sport where a team can go from first to worst very quickly. Hayward knows that leadership will be essential to make sure there is no regression from last year, but instead steady improvement is a goal for the Lady Golden Eagles.
“Momentum can change so fast out on the court,” Hayward said. “As a player, I have to stay positive on the court, because I know some on the younger players will be looking up to me. I love the excitement of the game, so staying positive probably won’t be that hard of a problem.”
The Lady Golden Eagles will face a daunting schedule this year with big time games against Rice, UTSA and Western Kentucky. Those three teams present the biggest challenges to USM this upcoming season if they want to win the conference title.
Traditional SEC powerhouse, Alabama, also presents a tough challenge for the Lady Golden Eagles this season. Alabama is coming off a year where they finished 24-9 overall and made an appearance in the NCAA tournament and will take on USM in Montgomery, Alabama on September 12. Hayward believes that these big games will prove a good test as to where her team stands with some of the big dogs.
“Our tougher conference opponents and teams like Alabama are really a good measuring stick for our team,” Hayward said. “I know our coaches will have us prepared, and it’s up to us as players to go out on the court and execute. Our seniors and the girls that have been around a while will have to step up and lead for some of the younger girls.”
Hayward, who has made an impact on every volleyball team she has been a part of, does not plan on letting her abilities fade after her days at USM are done. The broadcast journalism major has big plans after college.
“I hope to have a chance to play volleyball overseas,” Hayward said. “Continuing my volleyball career is my ultimate goal, but I also understand that things don’t always go as you plan. I’m majoring in broadcast journalism in hopes to be a television producer one day. I want to start off in news, but I want to end up producing and starring in my own reality show.”
The Lady Golden Eagles will open their 2014 season at the Southern Miss Invitational on August 29 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 7:30 p.m.