Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Beating expectations, volleyball set to finish strong

Ngan Vu
Sean Carlson #22 spikes the ball in the home game against Carthage College on March 16, 2024.

At the beginning of the season, the men’s volleyball team was projected to finish last in the conference. However, with the season soon coming to an end, many of the players believe that they have a chance at winning first place in the conference. After the team fell short to Carthage College on March 16, the team’s overall record for the season is now 15-4. 

“I feel like we’ve had a lot of recent successes, and that has kind of allowed us to be more confident in the way that we play,” senior Benjamin Schultz said. “Being confident allows us to win and gives us more of a stronger desire to win, and we’re hungry.” 

Last year, the team went 12-12 and struggled to find wins, but throughout the postseason and their practices, the team has developed and improved their game with better plays and communication. 

“We took the postseason a lot more seriously this time around. The weight room was a big focus during our postseason during the summer,” junior Garrett McNelis said. “Put some weight on, get some strength going and I think also the attitude changed. I think we realized how good we are, and we were kind of tired of being okay, and we’re going to develop.”

Although the team has seen a significant improvement from last year, there is still more that could be done to keep improving on the court. 

“We can always improve on our communication,” Schultz said. “Volleyball is as much a mental sport as it is physical, and [it’s important] to be able to connect with our teammates just as much as we connect with the ball. Coming together more as teammates, communicating what we see and what we hear and what we need to be successful.” 

While the team is doing well so far, players such as junior Aidan Bolen said they still believe there are challenges ahead.

“The biggest challenge was the games that we played before conference games,” Bolen said. “They were definitely not close to the level of our conference teams that we’re now playing. And that wasn’t the best preparation for us now that we’re starting to play a lot higher level conference teams.” 

Now, the Vikings are fighting for first despite being voted as last, working harder than ever to show why they belong on top of the conference.

“Our goal is to just prove everyone wrong and prove to everyone that they made a big mistake by voting for us last,” McNelis said. 

The team is facing off against Illinois Wesleyan on Sunday, March 24 in Bloomington, Ill.

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