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Volleyball wins the MWC for the first time in Pioneer history

The volleyball team has won the conference tournament, advancing them to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Contributed.
The volleyball team has won the conference tournament, advancing them to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Contributed.


For the first time in the 46-year history of its program, Grinnell College women’s volleyball team not only competed in the Midwest Conference (MWC) Tournament championship match but will be advancing onto the NCAA Division III Tournament this weekend. The women’s volleyball team started out the MWC Tournament with a strong win against top-seeded Cornell College this past Friday, defeating them in four sets. 

Madison Smith ’20, a defensive specialist, explained the winning mentality on Friday, “We were nervous but ready for Friday. We were prepared. We walked into that gym and knew that we were going to win on Friday. Even though occasional doubt came in, we had complete confidence.” Smith ’20 continued, “Saturday was a different story. The Grinnell College women’s volleyball team, in general, had never been to the finals. So this was completely uncharted territory. We knew it would be a fight. It was going to be a fight for every single point and we are a fighting team. [St.] Norbert is not. They don’t like it when it is hard, but we do.”  

The Grinnell College Women’s Volleyball Team took down St. Norbert in a thrilling five sets that left Grinnell players and coaches with a euphoria for the program. Coach Eric Ragan expressed his gratitude for the team’s hard work and growth. “I’ve been the coach here for three years and every season we have gotten a little bit better and a little bit closer to winning the conference championship. So this year, knowing who was coming back on our team and the talent level of the first years coming in, we thought we had a really great opportunity to compete for a conference championship. It was really cool to see over the weekend those expectations for our coaching staff and our athletes come together and we really played our best when it mattered most,” said Coach Ragan. 

In addition, Coach Ragan shared how he thinks Grinnell College Women’s Volleyball is progressively building a dominant reputation in the conference. “We have only qualified for the conference tournament six times ever and we have done that for the past four years in a row now. We have definitely grown. So traditionally Grinnell has not been a Conference powerhouse but it is really cool to see that we are one of three teams now that have made it [MWC Tournament] the past four years,” stated Coach Ragan.  

Along with players and coaching staff, Grinnell alumni had a great deal of pride for the Pioneers most recent achievement. According to Smith ’20, “There were a lot of older alumni from the nineties that were in the stands who we had gotten to know last year and this year as the program has been developing a little more. It is really special to see them get very emotional because this is a thing they never got to do but now they are very close with us and get to see us do it. It’s so sweet because the memories that they have of the team, I know will be similar to memories that I will have in 20 years. It is really special.”  

The Grinnell Women’s Volleyball Team is looking forward to competing at the Chicago Regional of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday at 3 p.m. against Carthage College. Grateful for the opportunity to even compete at this level, Coach Ragan said, “There are eight teams in our region and three of the top five teams in the nation are going to be there. So even if we will win the first one, our life does not get easier. So it will be really cool to not only compete at that level but also watch other matches at that level and have that championship experience.”  

Stream live coverage of the matchup: 

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