The Maroon

Volleyball storming to a good start

Psychology pre-med junior Libby Collyer spikes the ball to her teammates during a volley practice. The women’s volleyball team started the season 8-0 and is practicing to stay strong in the game.

TIFFANY KUDIWU /THE MAROON

Psychology pre-med junior Libby Collyer spikes the ball to her teammates during a volley practice. The women’s volleyball team started the season 8-0 and is practicing to stay strong in the game.

KARL GOMMEL and KARL GOMMEL

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Loyola’s volleyball team has ridden good, focused play to an 8-0 start, marking the team’s best start to a season since 2008.

After sweeping teams in two tournaments, the team has received votes in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. This is the first time the team has received votes since August 2009, according to the team’s website.

Coach Tommy Harold says that the biggest key to the team’s success has been the team’s ability to remain focused.

“The preparation and progress that was made in the preseason was also important as it had to hold through a week of lost practice due to the hurricane,” Harold said via email.

Junior history pre-law middle Sabrina Stansberry says that while Hurricane Isaac presented a challenge to the team, it also gave the team time to bond.

“It was a weird start because Hurricane Isaac put us between a rock and a hard place. But stuff like that really brings us together,” Stansberry said.

While the team has been on an impressive run, the players have not gotten caught up in their undefeated record. Harold attributes this to the competition at several positions. He says the freshmen have stepped up, singling out Kaitlin Mohr, who had a .711 hitting average during the University of St. Thomas Tournament.

Stansberry agrees with Harold, saying the “freshmen are tremendous.” She says that Eva Allen, Katie Hamilton and Mohr have stepped in without missing a beat. The competition on the team has kept her concerned with improvement rather than wins.

“I haven’t really thought about it. When you start thinking about the streak, you lose focus,” Stansberry said.

During the St. Thomas Tournament, the ‘Pack had to face different challenges. Stansberry said that the first game of the tournament presented the toughest mental challenge to date, as they barely arrived in time after missing a week of practice. The third game, against Montana Tech, was the most physically challenging. It was the first game of the season that the ‘Pack went to the fifth set.

“They were really scrappy. We had to dig in the trenches and pull out the win,” she said.

The team looks to continue its hot start on Tuesday with its conference opener at the University of Mobile. Stansberry says that this game is critical to establishing the team’s mindset for conference play.

“This game will set the tone for the rest of the season,” Stransberry said.

Karl Gommel can be reached at [email protected]

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