By ZACH WOHLEKING
On Nov. 4 UMW women’s volleyball completed their impressive 2017 season. After losing many senior leaders and players in the offseason, many did not know what to expect this year. With so many changes to the rotation, it was unclear what this new team would accomplish and if they could handle the pressure and expectations placed upon them from the previous season. Now that the season is over, it is safe to say that UMW volleyball still has the fire and grit of last year, even with the changes. The team ended their season with a 19-10 record and a conference championship appearance.
It was not all easy-going for the team out of the gate, though. Early struggles definitely raised a few questions soon after the start of the season. When they started the season 5-6, it was evident that this was not the same team we had the previous season. There was something missing; the grit and determination were there but there was still something that did not quite make this team complete. The continuity was absent and the team had to learn to trust one another and it showed on the court.
Around the midseason mark, a spark was lit within that locker room that brought everyone together. After the midway point the team’s energy skyrocketed and they won six games straight,going on to only lose three games for the rest of the regular season and ending it with an impressive 18-9 record. They then went on to crush Southern Virginia in the conference semifinals, not giving up even one set to them.
Unfortunately, that was as far as this impressive team got. Facing Christopher Newport University in the conference finals, UMW just barely fell to CNU, only losing by one set. With so much change and adversity that the team faced this year, they accomplished an awful lot and with tons of young talent, they have a lot of room to grow as well.
“Family, it has been focusing on pushing each other and players to be the best we can be on and off the court,” said junior Ryan Cho regarding the culture of the team this season.
As an upperclassman and veteran on the team, Cho had to step into more of a leadership role this season as the team headed in a new direction after losing several key players.
“It’s been tough because I never realized how much more work it has been, but my teammates make it easy on me because they are so awesome,” said Cho.
After losing a handful of quality playmakers, Cho spoke on the importance of this team to regroup.
“Focused on the fact that it’s a new season and there was still high expectations to meet from last season, we’ve taken it one game at a time and used the beginning of the season to grow and figure out what our new culture and team dynamic would be,” said Cho.
When asked about why this season was one to remember, Cho noted that it was “the resilience and determination that our team has developed going from a slow start to all the way to conference finals.”