Last Friday, the 2013-14 Colorado College women’s volleyball team joined an elite group. With a victory against Johnson and Wales University, the Tigers advanced their record to 30-3, making this year’s team only the sixth in program history to record 30 wins in a single season. This is yet another exciting milestone for the squad.
They also beat the record for most consecutive victories earlier on in the season, and with a record of 12-2 in league play, the Tigers finished second in the final standings and will enter into the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference playoffs as a No. 2 seed. Even with all of this success, the team has not stopped striving for further improvement.
“As a team, we are proud of what we have accomplished, but at the same time, we feel that there is a lot more room for growth. With high expectations, we aim to focus on one game at a time and never get ahead of ourselves,” said sophomore libero Sophie Merrifield.
Four (including this year’s squad) of the six squads to achieve 30 wins were during Rick Swan’s 16-year tenure as head coach. Swan and the other coaching staff have developed CC women’s volleyball into an impressive program as this year’s talented squad clearly demonstrates.
“Our entire coaching staff significantly contributes to our success. Coach Swan is a strong believer in learning through play, meaning we use game-like situations in practice to create the same pressure that a game would bring. The energy he brings to practice every day allows us to stay focused and work hard, which makes being a part of this team so fun,” said Merrifield.
The victory against Johnson and Wales was not only a significant accomplishment for the team but also on an individual level. During that match, Merrifield reached 603 digs and became the third player in program history to accumulate 600 or more digs during a single season. A dig is when a player stops the ball from hitting their side of the court after it has been spiked or served by the opposing team. 603 is a big increase from last season, when Merrifield achieved a total of 362 digs, placing her at 27th in program history.
The school record is 625 and was set by libero Hannah Varnell in 2011. When asked if this potential record affected her mindset and how she prepared for matches, Merrifield answered, “The record definitely doesn’t change the way I play. I always just strive to focus on what the entire team and I need to do to succeed.”
Merrifield has the full support of her team as she nears this exciting achievement. “I definitely feel like my team is rooting for me to make the record. Everything we do is a team effort and without each and every one of my teammates I would not be able to achieve this record,” said Merrifield.
After the JWU victory, the Tigers went on to defeat Colorado State University – Pueblo on Tuesday. In their final match of the regular season, the Tigers beat CSU Pueblo 3 to 1, raising their record to 31-3. Merrifield accumulated 14 more digs during this match, which brings her total to 617. This means she only needs nine more digs during playoffs to break the record.
The 2013 SCAC Championship begins Nov. 8 in San Antonio, Texas. With such skilled and dedicated players, we can look forward to exciting accomplishments from both Merrifield and the entire squad.
Hannah Westerman, Staff Writer