– Excitement is not enough to describe how ready the University of Missouri – St. Louis Volleyball team is to end this season with a bang. –PHOTO: The UMSL Tritons volleyball team. Photo by Eric Harris for The Current 2014 ©
By Eric Harris, Sports Editor for The Current
Excitement is not enough to describe how ready the University of Missouri – St. Louis Volleyball team is to end this season with a bang. Libero Emily Bragaw, senior, elementary education, said, “We still have so much room to grow, we have not peaked out yet and we are still on the upward climb.” It seems that a new era of Triton Volleyball has begun.
The UMSL volleyball team has had an outstanding season being 10-6 before the GLVC-GLIAC Crossover Tournament in Aurora, Illinois October 17-18. There, they will have tough opponents in Hillsdale College, Ferris State and Ohio Dominican. Right side hitter Allie Ewing, senior, liberal studies, said,“If we go there and compete the way we know how, we have a possibility to end this season stronger than ever.” Besides getting to show off her skills in the competition, one player is excited to be in this tournament for a more personal reason. From nearby Anitoch, Illinois, middle blocker Jessica Ploss, junior, criminal justice, stated, “I’m excited for the Crossover Tournament this weekend because I get to see family. I think that if we pull together and work our butts off at practice and in each game that we play, then we will do well.”
One major highlight has already occurred for this year’s team. For the first time in the last five games that UMSL has played, we beat our rivals from Rolla, Missouri S&T, in an exciting fashion. On the home court we beat the Miners 3-1. Outside hitter Haley Brightwell, graduate, business administration, said, “Beating Missouri S&T is definitely the highlight for me! I hadn’t beat them since I’ve been at UMSL, so to do that felt amazing. We really stepped up out defensive play that day.” About the win, Ewing said, “I would say what really helped us get this win was definitely the week of practice we had prior to the game. We knew we wanted to beat them and we made sure we put ourselves in the position to do so.”
There is no secret to this season’s success. The biggest change is chemistry. Bragaw stated, “We are much more relaxed on the court together. We go into practice this year knowing that we are going to have a good time getting better at the sport we love. Our team chemistry is totally different than it was last year we all get along great.” It looks as thought this strong bond will not graduate with this year’s seniors either, Ewing said, ”the new girls that have come in are buying into the team vision for this year.”
The Tritons have just eight more regular season matches before heating to the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament this November. Only three of which are home, including a rematch with in town rivals Maryville University on October 28, and the senior game versus Bellarmine University on November 2. The Tritons are pumped to see how this season will end. Ploss stated, “If we are able to pull together and communicate well out on the court and in practice, then we can go far.”
Head Coach Ryan Young is very excited to see how this team will grow in these last few weeks and the future of the program. He said, “They battle everyday at practice which is getting everyone better. This is a tighter knit team than last year and they work really well together. We have great leadership in the seniors and the captains. They all respect each other. We’ve got some great depth off of the bench as well. The freshman have really stepped up off the bench and had some really good matches. Middle Hitters Hannah Miller and Jessica Ploss are having a stand out season, they are currently top 10 in the conference in hitting percentage and our libero Emily Bragaw has played well, she’s been steady for us all season.”
Currently leading the team in kills is Carly Ochs, junior, accounting, with 149, followed by Jory Siebenmorgen, senior, studio arts, with 120. Bragaw leads the team in digs with 252, followed by Lindsay Meyer, junior, economics, with 183. Ploss currently leads the team in blocks with 48, followed by Hannah Miller, junior, graphic design, with 32.
© The Current 2014