BY BROOKS HOLTON – SPORTS EDITOR
September 4, Marietta, Ohio. The Centre College Volleyball team has just dropped the opening game of the season in five sets to Union College (Ky.). It is a disappointing moment – no team wants to start the year 0-1 – but a moment the Colonels could look back on at the end of 2015 campaign as paramount to the team’s success.
“It’s very easy to get discouraged after a game as close as the first one,” team captain and senior Beth Cecil said. “It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve put out all of your effort to fall just short. What was encouraging about the team, though, was how despite that first lost, we continued to put forth our best energy and stay positive—all the way to the 14-16 loss. This is a definitely team that won’t back down.”
This “never back down” attitude came to define Centre Volleyball during the 2014 season, after a 2-8 start in nonconference play turned into a late-season push that found the Colonels in the semifinals of the SAA Tournament as the five-seed. After playing some of their best volleyball at the end of the season, this year’s squad wants to put the pieces together for a complete 2015.
“We would love to win all of our conference matches, and hopefully win a conference championship,” senior Erin McGrath said. “But in order to get to that ultimate goal, we have set specific goals that will help us get there. These goals include learning to have fun no matter the situation and implement the things we do in practice in our games.”
The Colonels have plenty of senior leadership at the forefront of this year’s team. Cecil is coming off an American Volleyball Coaches Association honorable mention 2014, and McGrath is looking to be one of the conference leaders in digs and service aces yet again. 2014 All-SAA honorable mention and Captain Elizabeth Janszen will also have huge contributions to the team in her senior season as well, with assist numbers that have been some of the best in the conference for the past three years. Senior Abbigale Jacobi rounds out the 2015 Captains, and made her presence know last season with 43 total blocks through 99 sets.
When it comes to leadership, though, Cecil believes that every senior plays a paramount role in the team’s success.
“While only half of us go out for the coin toss, all of us serve as both vocal leaders and leaders of example for our underclassmen.”
That leadership will only get stronger and more important as the season develops and the Colonels enter conference play. After a 1-3 weekend at the RHIT Invitational hosted by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the team will enter their opening SAA matchup on Tuesday, September 15 against Sewanee at 3-5.
No matter what happens this year, don’t count the Colonels out. They’ve shown it before, and they’ll more than likely show it again: they won’t back down.