The volleyball team has been playing phenomenally this season, but this season is a lot different than their last few seasons. We spoke to the head coach, Amy Veenhof, about her thoughts on this season compared to their past seasons and she is excited about their opportunities this year. “I am looking forward to having a [relatively] normal season! More teams are playing and there are less restrictions than last year as far as masks and fan attendance,” Veenhof said. During their first home game of the season, the stands were packed with excited student and community supporters, as well as supporters from the opposing team.
We also spoke with the senior, Peyton Groft, about her opinions and experiences throughout the past rocky seasons she has played. In comparison to last year’s season, Groft agreed with Veenhof and said that she is “happy [for] a more consistent game schedule and [being] back on track with playing, somewhat, normally again. [She is] more grateful this season than any other season for the opportunity to play volleyball.” The volleyball team will not have to have two seasons this year, one in the fall and spring, they are on their regular fall season schedule.
Regardless of the restrictive COVID-19 year, Groft feels as though every season is unique with its own advantages and challenges. “No season is like the next. We all get a little better each year, and new players come in and out, so the team dynamic is vastly different each season. I think this year especially we have a super crazy and silly team (lots of singing, dancing, and pulling pranks on each other), so we have a lot of fun! This season, as with any new season, we are all getting used to playing with each other every day. With new players coming in every year, college teams have the unique challenge of combining [different] talents of 20-30 players [with] different playing experiences and backgrounds [regarding] technique learned and creating a team that can work together as a single unit.”
Coach Veenhof let us in on a few more challenges they are facing this year. Because of the lost season due to COVID-19, many players have been given the opportunity to return and play another year. This has given teams an advantage. Two teams that Coach Veenhof predicted would be tough are Viterbo and Bellevue University. Besides the challenges opposing teams bring, Veenhof identifies an internal challenge as well. “This season we have had a couple injuries, [so] keeping everyone healthy is a challenge.” Much like the football team, dealing with injuries at the beginning of a season can be a setback. But our Trojans are strong, and they continue to succeed despite any hindrances.
As I watched the volleyball team play, I could not see any issues with any of the players not being united. The players on the court were ecstatic when a teammate did well, and supportive if a mistake was made. The sidelines were also extremely cheerful and supportive. They had cheers and chants that they said in support of their teammates on the court. Veenhof agrees and said, “We are a very talented group. When everyone plays well and we play together, we are really fun to watch!”
Their team ideals that helped them get through the past difficult seasons are still uplifting them now. “Be a good person. Be a good student. Be a good teammate,” Veenhof said. “We spend time learning about the 5 core values of the NAIA Champions of Character Program: Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship, and Servant Leadership.” The volleyball does an amazing job representing those values on the court.
So far this season, the volleyball team has won 19 out of 25 total games and are currently on a 4-game winning streak. Their last home game was on October 30th but their away games will be live streamed, so tune into their next game against Waldorf University on November 5th and cheer them on!