MU
Oak Leaves

November 18, 2016

VB

Volleyball team members celebrate after advancing to semi-finals

Volleyball Season Closes at HCAC Tournament


Shelby Harrell

A somber yet hopeful mood fell over Hanover College's John and Anne Horner Health and Recreation Center last Saturday as the Manchester University Spartans volleyball team lost a grueling battle against the Hanover Panthers in a 16-25-point final match.
  
In an attempt to secure their win, the Spartans spent the last 20 seconds of the game charging the Panther's 6-point lead. "It was very intense," said first-year Caroline Aikin. "We knew that if we lost, the season was done." Though they were still reeling from the loss, the Spartans were then able to exit the locker room with their heads held high. 
 
In reflection upon her final season as a Spartan Athlete, senior Heather Racine had mixed feelings regarding the final game of her career. "It's kind of sad since I'm a senior," Racine said, "but I enjoyed my time as a Manchester volleyball player and I'm glad that I have those memories to look back on." 
 
Since their consecutive wins in the Manchester Invitational, the Spartans have seen substantial improvements in the strategies, gameplay and overall team chemistry. Assistant coach Sara Pruden describes the overall team chemistry as a huge improvement. "Leadership stepped up when we needed it," Pruden said. "The two upperclassmen got the team focused." 
 
Pruden, a former Spartan volleyball player herself, began her career as an assistant coach this previous fall. "You see all the behind the scenes stuff coaches do," Pruden said, "and you don't realize how stressful it is."  
Previous to this season, the Spartans’ 2008 season marked the last time they had made the final four portion of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. "We made it to the final four for the first time since the 2006-2008 seasons," Racine said. "We are also tied for most season wins."
 
Throughout the season, the women won a grand total of 18 games, matching the previous record from their 2008 season. "Everyone will be ready to break records next season," Aikin said. "I think that it puts into perspective that we can do everything people say we can't." 
 
In addition to the character development and ability to work as a team toward a common goal, each member of the Manchester women's volleyball team was able to take away a few personal lessons from their season.
  
Racine, who had spent the majority of their season on the sidelines due to injury, learned that events have the potential to occur in which one can't always control. "You can't control every outcome in life," Racine said. "You sometimes have to just let things happen." 
 
Throughout their many years as volleyball players, the women have gained a large amount of wisdom that they hope to pass down to future players. "When you play, you don't need to feel like there is pressure," said Pruden regarding the amount of nerves that many players face in the beginning of the game. "They have the skills and the knowledge, they just need to get out of their heads."