Fresh off of an undefeated run in 2015 that culminated with the program’s first-ever AVCA National Championship, the No. 1-ranked beach volleyball team will be in a prime position to repeat its success and win it all once again in 2016.The upcoming season will mark the first year of beach volleyball being recognized as an official NCAA sport, in addition to becoming the first ever season of Pac-12 beach volleyball. After going 28-0 in 2015 and claiming the school’s 123rd national team title, the Women of Troy have been ranked preseason No. 1 by multiple media outlets, including the AVCA National Poll and by DiG Magazine.While the early expectations may loom large for the Women of Troy, fifth-year head coach Anna Collier will return some firepower in 10 letterwinners from last year’s squad. USC boasts a good mix of experience and fresh faces in their line up with the top three pairs being made up of upperclassmen — five of whom are juniors — while the four and five pairs consist of a freshman, a sophomore and two former transfers.“Interestingly enough, I actually think we have an even tighter-knit group than last year, and we’re also pretty deep,” Collier said. “I really think we’ve got the correct pairs playing together and ultimately in the correct order.”Among the returning players are junior All-Americans and reigning AVCA Pairs National Champions Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. In just their first season playing together collegiately, USC’s No. 1 duo went an impressive 44-3 overall in 2015 en route to becoming the third USC pair in a row to claim the pairs title.Now, the two will look to cement themselves as the best beach duo in the nation and make another big run together this season as the Women of Troy’s indisputable on-court leaders.Also returning will be the experienced pair of senior Alexa Strange and junior Sophie Bukovec. Last season, both were named AVCA All-Americans for the first time in their careers after going 33-10 overall at USC’s No. 2 position and will provide key leadership and stability in 2016. Juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler, who went 31-5 together at the four spot in 2015, move up one flight to stand at the No. 3 position this year, while sophomore Jenna Belton and freshman Abril Bustamante will suit up together in their place at No. 4. Rounding out the pairs will be sophomore Jo Kremer and graduate student Zoe Nightingale, debuting at the No. 5 position.With one AVCA national championship already under their belts, team captains Bukovec and Hughes are hoping their team can leave an imprint on this the inaugural season of NCAA beach volleyball.“Our main goal is ultimately to win the first ever NCAA National Championship, because this is the first official year as an NCAA sport,” Hughes said. “That’s really what our team is striving for.”However, the team knows that the road to the championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama, won’t be easy.“I think that because we are ranked No. 1, we have a pretty big target on our back,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be about us taking things one point at a time and one match at a time. Then, we’ll get to that ultimate goal of winning the national championship, which I really think we can achieve.”Bukovec also noted that the early pressures of being the No. 1-ranked team in the nation will be a challenge that the Women of Troy are up for.“Expectation goes hand in hand with pressure, and that’s something I think our team is really good at handling,” Bukovec said. “We’re just going to come out and use it as fuel for each and every match.”Collier was more frank in describing what her team needs to do in order to repeat as national champions.“Honestly, I think we’re going to have to play better than we did last year,” Collier said. “Everybody wants to win the first NCAA Championship, so everything is elevated. Every team that lines up on the opposite side of the net will play their best match against us, so we need to make sure that we not only know that, but also know that we’re still going to win in the end.”In addition to the star-studded roster, USC boasts an impressive coaching lineup as well. Collier herself is a former three-sport athlete and All-American at USC and has coached women’s beach volleyball teams in a pair of Olympics. Named AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2014, Collier has compiled a 74-15 record as USC’s first and only head coach. Also returning to the sidelines as volunteer assistant is former gold medalist and two-time beach volleyball Olympian Dain Blanton, while Ali Lamberson comes to Troy in her first year as assistant coach. Lamberson, formerly a volunteer assistant at Tulane, brings 25 years of experience as a player, coach and administrator and has worked with Collier for more than 20 years.With all of these factors put together, Collier thinks she has the recipe for success.“I’m expecting us to come out and play some good, solid, elite volleyball, which I always call ‘USC volleyball’ because it’s true — we are elite,” Collier said. “So, I think if we can just play USC volleyball, we’re going to be fine.”USC will begin their quest to win the first-ever NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship this weekend in Malibu for the Pepperdine Kick Off. The Women of Troy will face off against four of the nation’s top six ranked teams in this tournament, starting with No. 3-ranked Hawaii on Saturday at 10:15 a.m., followed by a match against host and No. 2-ranked Pepperdine at 12:45 p.m.
Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (4) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +9 Vote up Vote down WHSFAN · 382 weeks ago Great story…keep them coming CUE! Report Reply 0 replies · active 382 weeks ago +5 Vote up Vote down janejane · 382 weeks ago Thant’s my boy. Go G. Report Reply 0 replies · active 382 weeks ago +8 Vote up Vote down Caped Crusader · 382 weeks ago Love this series Cue! Congrats Garrison. Keep making Wellington proud! Report Reply 0 replies · active 382 weeks ago +6 Vote up Vote down Redkitty · 381 weeks ago This is a wonderful story.Its nice to read articles like this, makes us forget about all the bad things in the world, even if for just a moment. Thanks! Report Reply 0 replies · active 381 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments 2. A lot of things have happened with your business, just over the last year. Tell us a little about what the business has been able to achieve over the past 12 months.At the end of 2011 I had five employees and we were mostly working on a few new home builds and remodels but mostly helping people furnish their existing homes. The real estate market wasn’t making a come-back and families were making the decisions to stay in their home and finish spaces that would make their life more comfortable. As we’re coming into 2013 consumer confidence is back up and we are extremely busy with projects in Oregon and Washington.Our company now has 12 employees and we have many projects in a variety of stages of design/build and four of those homes are over 12,000 square feet and each have over nine bathrooms. I am also known in the design/build industry as a social marketing expert with over 40,000 twitter followers and recent articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal highlighting my use of the internet and social media to promote my business. One of the kitchen’s I designed was recently used on Lowe’s marketing materials for a $50,000 dream kitchen give away with Houzz.com.Kitchen featured in Lowe’s ad this year.3. What would you say has been the key to your success?Â We’re very fortunate to work with wonderful clients that appreciate the practicality and beauty that we bring to their home and many of those clients add to our success by giving us wonderful referrals to others. I’m told very often that my personality doesn’t always match the serious and meticulous image that is created on my website or in the magazine articles…I think people are surprised to learn how amiable I am that I am looking out for their best interest on their project.4. Do you feel the true ingredient to success in business, is to have passion for a specific talent, or to have a keen business mind and common sense?Â It’s great for a person to have a passion about a business but sometimes that passion can be ill-placed if there is no business plan. My years at The Gap headquarters has had an influence on how I run my business. I am very aware of what my strengths and at the same time I am quick to make changes, if I try something and it doesn’t work, I move on and try a different strategy. I have been told that I am probably an “early adapter” otherwise I will change course quickly and hold steady when appropriate. I don’t have a college degree and all my employees hold degrees and have years and years of experience in their profession. It is so important to hire the right people with the skills that I don’t have and not to hire someone because they are a friend or you want to ‘help them out’. I am able to take my experience and opinion on home design and formulate a big picture idea then I hand that idea off to one of my associate or junior designers and they have the technical skill to implement and follow through with the plan.5. Obviously, Wellington and Portland, Oregon are worlds apart. Do you think your experiences in Wellington has made you successful in Oregon? Why?Â I feel fortunate that I grew up in Wellington with a family that believed in working hard and enjoying a simple life of family activities. I was involved in scouting at an early age and many school activities and then went on to work at Dillon’s when I was in high school. I think the personal interaction we had to have with our customers was a great training ground for engaging with clients in an honest but friendly manner. I also think the work ethic I learned as a young adult has made me not only a successful person but also a great employer.6. What advice to you have for people wishing to start business in interior design?Â It’s not for the weary…if you make a mistake it can be expensive. I think partnering with someone you trust and that likes your aesthetics is a great way to start. Many times contractors are asked by their clients to pick out flooring, tile, countertops and even paint for a project and they’re not comfortable doing this…if you could partner with a contractor and help with surface and material selections you have a great way of making the project look so much better and making the client happy that you’re sure to get referrals to help others. I also think working at a furniture store is a great way to gain experience in home design.I travel to Las Vegas, Hight Point, NC and NYC several times a year to shop for furnishings and get new ideas…a person wanting to start a design business might find a lot of opportunity at a furniture store.7. What advice do you have for the youth of Sumner County and what they must have to be successful in life?We have dozens of college and high school students that come to my firm each year wanting to learn more about our business and we also rotate through 8-10 post graduate interns a year for those looking for experience in our field and the people we see being successful have a few similar traits.Figure out what makes you happy or what types of things make you happy. I also say you have to be involved in your community, push yourself to volunteer with people that are outside of your small circle of friends/family. I think you also have to be honest with yourself and follow your dreams, if you have an artistic ability I think it’s really important to explore it even when others may not see the opportunity in the future.I hear many people say that the Millennial Generation group is too plugged in to technology but I think you just have to have some balance in your life and take the change and disengage with your ipod and get out and experience something totally different in your community.Garrison Hullinger is a 1983 graduate of Wellington High School.If you know of a Wellington High School graduate who is doing something spectacular somewhere other than Sumner County send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 1. Tell us a little bit about your Interior Design business and how you got into that chosen field of work?Â After attending Oklahoma Christian University for a couple of years, I started working in retail in Oklahoma City with Dillard’s and then moved to Dallas and worked for Neiman Marcus and then had a long career with The Gap, Inc. I started managing stores in the Dallas area before relocating to many different locations opening high volume Old Navy stores in the mid 1990’s eventually ending up at Headquarters in San Francisco and developed technology and store systems for Old Navy.My story is slightly nontraditional in the way I came to developing my business. I was involved in a work-related accident in 1999 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I was in therapy and rehab for just over four years learning to read, speak, write and walk again after the accident. I had 20+ hours of therapy a week the first year and a half of my recovery and slowly my short-term memory got better and the therapists developed a program for me to remodel a bathroom as part of my recovery.Growing up my father was an avid do it yourself guy, always working with my uncle to remodel our home and work on other family member’s homes and it was an easy transition to get me back to handling tools and improving my home in San Francisco.After buying and remodeling different homes in San Francisco, it became apparent to others that my new found talent was to remodel homes..doing it in a budget mindful manner but also in a way that was very pleasing to others. After selling the second home that was remodeled the realtor turned to me and said “Garrison you know you can do this with other people’s money, right?”It was a great idea but I still had a big move to make to really restart my life and that was moving to Portland, Ore. Portland had a slower pace and was much more affordable for buying properties and remodeling them. I spent over a year of remodeling a newly purchased 1909 Foursquare craftsman home and in the process my new realtor dropped by and couldn’t believe the transformation. He tipped off a location scout that I had recently remodeled the house and after the photographers checked out the home they started pitching it to different magazines and I think it has been published seven different times since 2006.After getting published a few times new opportunities opened up and I briefly worked part-time for a designer as an assistant and I help with the creative development of a large lighting manufacturer that was trying to create a new magazine styled catalog. I started taking on friend’s jobs and then in the fall of 2009 I was approached to design and select all the finishes for a 6,800 square foot Parade of Homes show home in the spring of 2009. by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow â€” It has been quite a year for Garrison Hullinger, the son of Ruth Hare and the late Farrell Hullinger of Wellington. The 1983 Wellington High School graduate is an owner of a Portland, Ore. interior design company. The company at 12 employees strong helps people furnish and design their homes. His work has been recently featured in Lowe’s marketing materials for a $50,000 dream kitchen give away.Garrison HullingerHullinger is also known as a social marketing expert in the design/build industry with over 40,000 twitter followers (follow him at #GHIDinc). He also just won the Jackson Design and Remodeling best blogger of the year for Interior Design (see his website here: http://garrisonhullinger.com/So how did Hullinger, who grew up in Wellington – not exactly the mecca of interior design – make such a name for himself on a national stage?Well it’s an interesting story. Here are a few questions we asked him about his ascension to success.Â