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Friday, May 29, 2020

Volleyball set to bounce back

Senior Abby Phelps encourages the team to get a little better every day. // Photo courtesy of WWU Athletics

By Anna Kasner

The Vikings volleyball team has a new saying.

Every contact.

“That’s our motto that we came up with this summer,” senior setter Brette Boesel said.

Whether it’s focusing on physical contact like passing, setting or hitting, or the emotional contact between teammates or in the classroom, every contact is what the volleyball team strives for in 2018, Boesel said.

The Vikings earned an academic team award last season by keeping their team GPA above a 3.30 for the 2017-18 academic year. They look to continue their academic success by applying their new motto to the classroom and the court.

Ranked seventh in the nation heading into the preseason, the Vikings strive to remain one of the top volleyball programs in NCAA Division II by building on team chemistry.

“We are definitely close,” Boesel said. “We are with each other every day training, and I think that helps us build friendships so we are comfortable with each other.”

Outside of practice, the players are strengthening their bonds either in the weight room or jump training.

Jump training allows players to meet and build strength, mental toughness and teamwork.

“Our offseason is crazy, and we honestly spend more time together in the gym working out or playing than we do when we are in season,” senior pin hitter Abby Phelps said. “Every day we train, our motto is ‘what are we going to do today that our opponent isn’t?’ So that’s what keeps us working hard towards our goal of getting a little bit better every day.”

Joining the Vikings in 2018 are six incoming freshmen: setter Malia Aleaga, pin hitter Rylee Born, pin hitter Calley Heilborn, defensive specialist Tupu Lologo, middle Anna Maracich and libero Kasey Woodruff.

“I chose to play at Western because when I came for my visit, I met the [players] and coaches and they were all so welcoming, kind and nice,” Heilborn said. “They all just seemed like a huge family and that was the environment that I wanted to find at a college.”

The players thrive on support from one another to create a welcoming environment that the program is known for. They also value the encouragement from the fans.

“We appreciate everyone who comes out and supports us,” Boesel said. “We love feeding off of the energy of the fans. Having a fun, loud crowd is the best thing ever.”

The Vikings start their season in Pensacola, Florida August 24 at the West Florida Invitational. After competing in Florida, they head to Azusa, California on Aug. 30 for the Division II West Region Showcase. Conference games begin Sept. 6 with a showdown against rival Seattle Pacific University.

Along with Boesel and Phelps, middle hitter Michaela Hall, pin hitter Taylor Lyall and libero Aubrey Buckner are entering their last season as members of the Viking volleyball team.

“Every season is different and with it comes different ups and downs,” Phelps said. “But those memories are the things that I cherish most and what I look forward to most as we are about to start up for my last season.”

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