The women’s volleyball team made history in more ways than one during the recent Colorado Premier Tournament hosted in Denver. Playing against the top-20 teams in Division II, the team lost a match to both No. 4-ranked Concordia St. Paul University and unranked Southwest Minnesota State University on Saturday, Sept. 12, the first time they’ve lost two games in a season since 2012. On a higher note, the match was broadcasted live on ESPN3 and serves as the first time any UT athletics team has been live streamed on ESPN.
“To be the first team to ever have a live game featured on ESPN was amazing,” said senior All-American Berkley Whaley. “It was such a cool experience to have our families and friends watch us on live television and be a part of the Colorado Premier.”
Although they lost in the broadcasted match, the Spartans did not have a bad weekend as they came in on Friday, Sept. 11 and swept the opening round by beating UC San Diego 3-1, following that up with a 3-2 win over No. 7 University of Central Missouri. Whaley blasted 38 total kills for both matches, while senior middle blocker Jessica Wagner was right behind her with 28 total kills and senior right side hitter Marissa Lisenbee followed with 25. On defense, freshman libero Logan Holanchock aided the team with 57 digs for both matches. The contribution of the girls stood out to head coach Chris Catanach and also came with special honor.
“Berkley Whaley and Jessica Wagner were selected to the 12-player all-tournament team. Marissa Lisenbee was a huge contributor to our team as well,” Catanach said.
Their successful first day brought them into the first “Golden Bracket” match and was quickly spoiled when they fell at the hands of Concordia St. Paul with a score of 0-3. The Spartans then battled the Minnesota State Mustangs in the final broadcasted match and lost the match 3-1. Wagner fought strong, blocking nine attacks while Lisenbee followed with five. Despite the loss, Whaley also had something to celebrate as she recorded her 1000th career kill during the match. After three seasons, she will now become the 18th Spartan with 1000 kills.
Though the tournament may not have gone the way they hoped, it was an excellent opportunity for growth.
“We are a new team, and like every new team you have to build. And with a new team comes new shortcomings, such as communication and trust. Although these things may have been evident this weekend, it was important that they were exposed so we know what we need to improve on,” said Whaley.
After their losses, the team’s ranking has dropped to No.5 in the nation according to the latest release of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll. They will now be looking forward to competing on the road as they travel to Saint Leo to play on Sept. 15, and come home to host Eckerd on Sept. 18.