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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Volleyball exceeds expectations

The volleyball team huddles before play. Photo by Mayu Sakae.

By Nora Coghan


The women’s volleyball team saw their season come to a close last Friday, Nov. 4, with a 3-0 set loss against St. Norbert College in the Midwest Conference semifinals.

The team finished third overall in conference, with a final record of 14-11, one of the best seasons since attending the conference tournament for the first time in 2011. In her eight years as head coach, Jackie Hutchison has taken the women’s team to the Midwest Conference Tournament only three times.

“Making the tournament has been a big goal for this program, especially for the seniors of this program for the past four years,” she said. 

Despite commentators chalking up the women’s success to luck, Hutchinson insisted that this year’s team put in the work and really earned their spot in the semifinals.

“Just earning the ticket to that event was huge for us, and not for one moment did we think of it as a token experience for us or some magical journey bullshit that the media might have spoke of,” she said. “We earned that. That was grit, and hard work, and dedication and a team culture second to no other.”

Although the women certainly fought hard, in their last match against St. Norbert College, right side player Ariel Lepito ’17 felt that they were simply outmatched.

“In the match itself [St. Norbert] was just on their game. … We were putting the ball away, they just really played well,” she said.

“In general it felt like that was the very best that St. Norbert had played all year,” Hutchinson added. “They came out fast and furious and … that kind of caught us on our heels but within each set we pushed through and there were moments that we were catching momentum and gaining some steam. The seniors from St. Norbert played well, but my team never gave up.”

The volleyball team huddles before play. Photo by Mayu Sakae.
The volleyball team huddles before play. Photo by Mayu Sakae.

Even so, the team continues to celebrate their success this season, crediting the women’s dedication to the lifting program this summer, a supportive atmosphere and faith in their abilities as this season’s keys to success.

“I think … this sounds corny, but [the reason we did so well was because] we actually believed we could [make it to the conference tournament],” Lepito said.

“At the beginning of the season we played some teams that boosted our confidence a little bit, and then some more challenging teams and we were still able to win. Everyone was really committed to the lifting program this summer, getting stronger, and thinking about volleyball. People really showed up for that and it showed.”

Hutchinson agreed, insisting that the culture the women created was the real reason for their most successful season in the last five years.

“They came in ready to go and it was a culture in the gym of learning [and] getting to know each other and understanding each others what we might call weaknesses, and just understanding each other so we could help each other get better.”

While the women’s team stands proud of this season’s hard work, Lepito urged the team to look to the future, and continue to build the program in the coming years.

“We have to continue this pressure,” she said. “We have to keep going at it, we have to keep working hard, keep playing smart, playing hard, training hard, because if we don’t, then next year it will have been some magical run to everybody else. It wasn’t [a fluke that we made it to conference] and we have to prove that through next season.”

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