September 9, 2022 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite

The Colorado College Women’s Volleyball team squared off against four different schools in the 2022 Pikes Peak Challenge last weekend. It was utter domination from the Tigers, as they won all four matches they played in, losing just one total set throughout the two-day competition.

In their 12 winning sets, CC beat their opponents by an average of 8.6 points. Moreover, the team won in nearly every single statistical category over the weekend, outplaying their opponents to the tune of 181 kills (opponents had 118), 160 assists (opponents had 104), and 29 aces (opponents had 17).

“We worked really hard over our preseason to get to where we wanted to be just for that first tournament,” said middle hitter Kaylie Stuteville ’25. “We had played [the other teams] in the past and we have our expectations very high this year and wanted to succeed.”

The only close set of the weekend for the Tigers was the fourth they played against Hardin-Simmons University. HSU actually beat CC in the second set of their matchup – the Tigers’ only lost set of the tournament – and played them competitively throughout the other sets as well.

In that fourth set, HSU took an early lead, but the Tigers fought back from two large deficits to keep the matchup competitive. After each team traded scoring runs, the set ended in a 25-25 tie. Even the tiebreaker was a hard-fought contest, but after multiple lengthy rallies CC eventually won the two consecutive points needed to win the set 27-25.

“Sometimes it’s hard – teams get on runs and we gotta bounce back,” said outside hitter Kellie Hopper ’25. “We can come together and trust each other. One person starts the fire and then we all just follow it.”

While the team expected to play as well as they did in the opening tournament, they came into the season on the heels of losing two key contributors to last season’s success. Georgia Mullins, a first-team All-American at the Division III level, and Isabella Vasquez, a player who set CC records for kills and digs, both graduated this past year, leaving the team without two of their top performers.

However, it doesn’t sound like the team dwelled too much on the loss of the two players, both of whom are playing at the Division I level this year.

“They’re our friends, we love them, and they are great players as well, but we were confident that we could keep the same level of play with or without them,” said Stuteville. “The freshmen coming in are all really talented as well, and that makes all the upperclassmen really excited to see what they’re gonna bring.”

Despite the two key losses to their locker room, the team’s chemistry is as good as ever. According to the players, the team specifically organizes bonding events and other activities outside of volleyball in order to develop a rapport between the players.

“Everyone’s friends off the court which makes for good team chemistry on the court,” said Stuteville. “I know with other teams sometimes it’s not always the case, so I’m really thankful that all of us are really close and really good friends.”

Although the team makes a note to develop their team chemistry outside of the court, their focus on the court remains just as steadfast as ever.

“Everyone can just be themselves and play volleyball together and that creates a culture of working hard, said Hopper. “[We] have these expectations to maintain this high-level program but have fun together [as well].”

The Tigers will next take on both the Illinois Institute of Technology and Friends University this weekend in the 2022 Colorado College Invitational. Even though CC is not as familiar with either of the schools they are playing this weekend, the team remains confident in their ability to win.

“I still expect us coming out on top,” said Stuteville. “I wouldn’t say I’m overly confident, but with our level of gameplay, we want to punch back, regardless of what they bring to us.”

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