Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Women’s Volleyball team sets up a big season

Linh Tran
Members of the Augustana College’s Women’s Volleyball Team practice in the Roy J. Carver Physical Education Center.

The Augustana Women’s Volleyball team has started their season by making history. By defeating Coe College, ranked number 23 in the country, the group moved to 6-0 for the season. The team’s 6-0 start was the program’s best since 1999. 

“That was a match we had circled on our calendar. Coe was really strong last year as well and returned the majority of their team, so we knew they were going to be good,” Head Coach Kelly Bethke said.

The Vikings followed their ranked win by swiftly defeating conference opponent Wheaton College in three sets in the next match. Beating conference opponents is a confidence booster for this team because the matches are always hard-fought and competitive.

“The CCIW is notoriously known for having really hard teams. That’s what I love about it: it’s super competitive. It’s very exciting,” senior Ameliese Baehr-Ross said.

During Augustana’s historic start, every player stepped up to contribute. One of the players whose great play was recognized was senior Grace Vranicar. Vranicar was named the Coca-Cola Women’s Student-Athlete of the Week after helping lead her team to wins against Knox College, Illinois College and Coe College. 

“I feel like my hard work is paying off,” Vranicar said. “It feels like I’m getting better. It means my team is successful if I’m successful, so that’s good.”

Their hard work is certainly paying off since the team has improved their record every year since the shortened 2020 season. Baehr-Ross has been on the team since the 2020 season and feels a sense of pride seeing the team’s improvement over her career at Augustana.

“I’m really proud,” Baehr-Ross said. “I have watched their hard work and effort, the drive to be the best they can be for the team.”

The team has a strong bond and a sense of togetherness, which could play a part in their hot start. Out of the 31 players on the team, 11 of the players are seniors. The experience of playing with the same teammates for three to four years builds chemistry and trust between players.

“We all trust each other,” Vranicar said. “One thing that I always say is you can tell that we move as a unit, especially calling defenses. I really don’t have to call anything anymore because everyone knows what I’m thinking. Whatever ball I put up, I know someone’s going to get there because I’ve trusted them now for three or four years.” 

Senior Syd Krueger trained with many of her teammates and saw how hard they were preparing for this season. Many of the players stayed over the summer and trained while continuing to bond with each other.

“I’m just so proud of all the girls around me. They push themselves so hard. They push me to be better every day,” Krueger said. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by such a strong-willed group of individuals who just want to work hard and are just as competitive as I am. We really are a family.”

The Vikings hosted the Viking Classic at home over the weekend, where they went 3-1 in the tournament. Despite their first loss of the season, the team still leads the CCIW and have an overall record of 10-1 going into the heart of the regular season schedule.

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