The Colorado College Tigers are on a roll. The volleyball team sits atop the SCAC with a record of 23-4 overall and 9-1 in conference play. This past weekend, the Tigers did not a drop set on their way to an undefeated series against Centenary College, University of Dallas, and Austin College.
Unsurprisingly, the team is brimming with confidence following the successful weekend. Senior middle hitter Kristen Liberty said, “It’s pretty well understood that offensively we’re unstoppable. It doesn’t matter who plays; we are offensively unstoppable.” The Tigers were relentless, recording 123 kills over the course of three games. Their opponents managed a mere 72.
Head Coach Rick Swan was pleased with the fact that his squad notched three wins. The Tigers also took care of business in an efficient manner. Swan said, “What I was really excited about was that we won all three matches in three sets.”
The Tigers beat the Kangaroos of Austin College in commanding fashion by scores of 25-22, 25-22, 25-18 to start the weekend on Friday, Oct. 10. On Saturday, Oct. 11, the Tigers faced a winless Centenary College squad as well as University of Dallas.
The Tigers dismantled Centenary by scores of 25-20, 25-6, 25-13. University of Dallas, which Swan described as the “toughest opponent of the weekend”, provided little resistance for the Tigers, who won the match 25-19, 25-15, 25-16.
Liberty characterized the weekend: “It was less of a ‘How are we going to win?’ mentality and more of a ‘How are we going to challenge ourselves and make our game better without some of our key players?’ mentality.”
The weekend marked the first time the Tigers were playing without a few of their lineup stalwarts. The inactive list included outside hitter Emily Phillips (ACL), middle hitter Kelli Sherwood (LCL straining), and right-side hitter Courtney Birkett (high-ankle sprain).
Coach Swan was forced to move around some players and looked especially to some of his younger talent to fill the voids left by Phillips, Sherwood, and Birkett. Junior Kamaira Herron, as well as first-year Glenna Yancey, stepped in to remedy the absence of Sherwood. Herron led the team with eight blocks over the course of the team’s two games on Saturday. Yancey showed off some her offensive prowess on Friday night against Austin College with four kills. Junior McQuella Adams, a new addition as a right side hitter, had a team-high of ten kills on Friday versus Austin College.
Liberty, one of the team’s floor leaders according to Coach Swan, said, “A few players had to step up very quickly, and they did a great job. We have always had depth and talent, but we didn’t quite have the confidence. This weekend helped us gain experience and strengthened us as a team.”
Liberty herself had a change to her role on the floor. Coach Swan shifted Liberty, traditionally a middle hitter, to the outside hitter position. Swan said, “She has played extremely well.” Liberty recorded eight kills for the Tigers on Friday.
The weekend also revealed to the Tigers some of their potential weaknesses. When asked what he believes his team can improve on, Swan responded without hesitation, “We can certainly improve our blocking and our defense”
Liberty said, “When it comes to defense, we have very strong individual players.” This is evidenced by the fact that junior libero Sophie Merrifield was named the SCAC Defensive Player of the Week. Merrifield was key in the Tigers’ three wins, as the Fairfax, Calif. native led the team in both aces and kills over the weekend.
“Obviously we have very strong players,” said Liberty, “but we need to get everyone on the same page so that we can be effective in games. It’s definitely a systematic process in volleyball and we need to get everything to sync up.”
The Tigers are able to look forward now to the rest of their season, which will include one more major road trip to Texas Lutheran for cross-divisional matches, followed by the SCAC tournament. “Trinity and Southwestern will be our main competition,” said Swan. Colorado College currently sits atop the SCAC, but both Trinity (9-1) and Southwestern (8-2) are not far behind. Trinity is the reigning conference champion and ended last season ranked 15th in the national Division III rankings.
The Tigers of Colorado College took down the Trinity Tigers earlier this season on Sept. 27, but will be making a road trip down to Seguin, Tex. to face both Southwestern and Trinity again on Oct. 26.
Liberty said, “It only gets better from here.” The Tigers will regain both Emily Phillips and Kelly Sherwood into the lineup for their late-season push and will hope to replicate the dominating performances they have put together thus far this season.