The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Women’s volleyball prepares for the Midwest Conference Tournament

After a win against Monmouth College, the volleyball team prepares for the MWC Tournament for the 4th year in a row.

By Jackson Schulte

For the fourth year in a row, the Grinnell College volleyball team has qualified for the Midwest Conference Tournament. This is just the sixth time in program history that the team has qualified for the four-team tournament. The match that clinched their postseason berth was a five-set battle with Monmouth College last Saturday, with was won with scores of 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 23-25 and 18-16.   

In the first game of the conference tournament, the Pioneers will square off against Cornell College, a rival and a team which the team has beaten twice already this season. The first victory came in an early September game which the Pioneers handled in three sets. On Wednesday night, Oct. 30, the Pioneers managed to beat Cornell again in a grittier, five-set match by scores of 25-17, 25-15, 14-25, 21-25, 17-15. Should they beat Cornell for a third time next Friday, they will play the winner of St. Norbert vs. Illinois College for the tournament championship.   

Beating Cornell three times in one season is no easy task, and the team is expecting a challenge. “Coming out of this past weekend of losing to Illinois and winning against Monmouth—that was definitely a wake-up call,” said Julianna Roth ’22, a setter who eclipsed 2,000 career assists in Wednesday night’s victory over Cornell. “We’re beatable, first of all, and we need to work for every single point, every single set, every single game.”   

The players are riding a wave of momentum, and they cite the unexpected loss to Illinois College a week ago as the catalyst. The day after the loss to Illinois College, they had to play Monmouth in a game that could, if they won, seal them a spot in the conference tournament. If they lost, it could have set up a messy tie between Grinnell and other teams in the conference. “[The loss to Illinois College] got us more hyped up, because I think we shouldn’t have lost to IC,” said Emmy Nyquist ’23.

“We tried to learn from our mistakes but not dwell on them,” said Anna Killin ’22. “If we were just thinking about the outcome, it wouldn’t be a good game, and we had to just use [the loss to Illinois College] to fuel us.”   

Roth also described how the team has never expected the season to progress in a perfectly linear fashion. She explained how head coach Eric Ragan ’12 expects ups and downs, and that the team has hopefully been through its rough patches and is ready to finish strong in the conference tournament.   

“We did incredibly well in the beginning of the season,” Roth said. “We’ve lost two of our conference games against two of the toughest teams in the conference. I was honestly a little surprised that we lost those games… We kind of hit a point where, it’s the middle of fall, the weather’s changing, it’s a tough point academically, mentally. I think we’ve acknowledged that as a team, and I think that since we’ve acknowledged it we’ve had a really great win against Monmouth. We’re growing a lot and learning a lot from our mistakes and wins and losses.”   

No doubt the rising levels of success this year has something to do with the team’s head coach Eric Ragan ’12, who has now qualified for the conference tournament in all three of his seasons as head coach.   

“The leadership dynamic has definitely changed,” Roth said. “We graduated five seniors last year and we’re a pretty young team. The level of competition and intensity and wanting to win has definitely increased. It’s only [Eric Ragan’s] third year here, and we’re kind of still in a transition period. And we all totally work well together, it’s a great team dynamic, but I think that we’ve done incredibly well the past two seasons and we’re only going to keep getting better.   

Kaylin Kuhn ’21, an outside hitter who ranks fifth all-time in kills at Grinnell, says that going into their matchups in conference they have a few strategies they would like to keep in mind. “One of the big things is keeping them out of system, making sure that they don’t have great passes so they can’t swing hard at us. We’ve worked a lot on things we’ve struggled with in our past couple of matches, like covering our hitters from blocks. And overall just being really competitive and having high energy, going in knowing that we can win.”   

The Pioneers will play Buena Vista University and Central College this weekend in out-of-conference games before beginning the conference tournament on Nov. 8 at Cornell College at 7 p.m.

After a win against Monmouth College, the volleyball team prepares for the MWC Tournament for the 4th year in a row.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *