By: Tim Wilmes ~Staff Writer~
The women’s club volleyball team captured a 3rd place finish in Division II of the National Club Volleyball Foundation (NCVF) Collegiate Club Volleyball Championships over the weekend of April 3-5 in Reno, Nev.
After earning a bye in the first round of the championship weekend by only losing to Duke in the preliminary round of the national tournament, the Musketeers defeated Iowa State then Winona State to earn a match against Kansas State in the semifinals. However, due to their defensive mindset and superb blocking abilities, the Wildcats proved to be too much for Xavier.
The theme of the national tournament seemed to be a sense of rejuvenated play for the Musketeers as reflected in their top-3 finish. Despite losing form throughout the regular season, going to Reno led to a new energy and a more cohesive style of volleyball for the team.
“That shot us down a little bit as players,” senior Christina Salmo said of the many losses the team sustained throughout the year. “We knew we were good, but we weren’t playing as well as we thought we should. So when we got to nationals, we played like we had nothing to lose.”
This new beneficial mentality came about through the team’s trip to Reno, where the pressure to raise money for the national tournament and the stress of class and work were not hanging over the players’ heads.
“All year, we really focused our energy on fundraising, just because Reno is so far away and the hotel and flight were so expensive. But we were able to fly 11 girls out plus our coach and ended up having a great team and played the best we have so far,” junior Bridget Hill said. “Once the financial goal wasn’t in the picture anymore, we realized that we were even better than we initially thought.”
Despite having to play some big-name competition against large schools like Duke, Kansas State and Iowa State, the task was never too daunting for the Xavier women’s club volleyball team. In fact, the team had played Michigan, Ohio State and other big schools throughout the regular season.
Senior Lauren Krabacher, who performed well enough to be selected into the 2nd All-Tournament Team, stated that, now more than ever, there is a comfort level in playing traditionally big-name schools.
“Sometimes it’s easy to play those big schools. You actually forget who you’re playing. You’re looking at their faces and numbers and not looking at the names on their jerseys,” Krabacher said.
“Sometimes I look forward to playing big schools,” junior Kate Aronson added. “We’ve all been playing volleyball our whole lives, so we’ll run into people we’ve played with before.
All of the sudden my buddy from high school comes out of nowhere and you get to reconnect.”
Despite the difficult task of collecting funding and playing top-level competition, the women’s club volleyball team found that the distance actually helped bring the team closer together and focus on the task at hand.
“It’s good to see everybody’s strengths and weaknesses and what they can bring to the team. During the tournament, we could all see that better, and everybody knew how to boost people up to make the team better as a whole,” Krabacher said.
Team-building and camaraderie has certainly been an integral part of the Musketeers’ club volleyball program for the past few years, and the end of this season reflected the team’s commitment to the program and to each other.
This success and support has also coexisted with the men’s club volleyball team that also won its conference tournament a week before the women’s team went to nationals.
Both teams have proven that The bond between the two teams has built a unique sense of family in Xavier’s club sports.
“One thing that’s stayed consistent over the years is the motto: ‘We are family’” Salmo said of the two teams’ relationship over her four years at Xavier.
“Out of all of the club sports here, Xavier men’s and women’s club volleyball are probably one of the closest groups.”
“It’s a base of support that’s so awesome to show for everyone else to see, too,” Krabacher added. “It reflects Xavier as a community.”
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