Marquette Wire

Women’s club volleyball hosts tournament, finishes fifth

Women%27s+volleyball+placed+fifth+at+its+home+tournament+last+weekend.
Women's volleyball placed fifth at its home tournament last weekend.

Women's volleyball placed fifth at its home tournament last weekend.

Photo by Isaiah Gencuski

Photo by Isaiah Gencuski

Women's volleyball placed fifth at its home tournament last weekend.

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Women’s club volleyball has some ground to make up before nationals after finishing in fifth place at its annual National Collegiate Volleyball Federation tournament in the Helfaer Recreation Center last weekend.

The team took home the championship trophy in back-to-back years in 2015 and 2016. Last season, the women’s team finished third at the final tournament, falling short in the semifinal round by just two points.

With most members returning from last year, the team anticipated a stronger finish at its home tournament and was disappointed with how things turned out.

“I think there was a lot of pressure at this tournament, and I think that’s due to being a young team,” lone senior Kelly Rushman said. “That’s kind of how we struggled, but we have lots of time to fix it, and I think now everyone’s super excited to gear up for nationals.”

The Golden Eagles lost just two seniors from last season but took on four freshmen. With a group dominated by underclassmen, there are still some kinks to work out before nationals, which are from April 12 to April 15 in St. Louis. Just before that weekend, the Golden Eagles will compete in another ranking event held at the University of Michigan. Getting the opportunity to face in-state rivals like University of Wisconsin-Madison will help the young team know what to expect.

“I think there’s going to be a change in mindset within the coming weeks because of how this tournament ended,” Rushman said.

The underclassman-heavy squad has turned to juniors and seniors for leadership. Junior middle hitter Hailey Wellenstein has been with the team all three years and has no problem taking on a leadership role.

“(It’s) showing the younger girls what I’ve experienced through volleyball and how fun it is to be successful and represent Marquette well,” Wellenstein said. “Once you know what that’s like, you can’t get that out of your mind. You want it.”

While the freshmen are still learning what it means to play club volleyball at the highest level, Rushman has welcomed the increased camaraderie they’ve brought to the squad. Off the court, the team spends a lot of time together on long bus rides or fundraising for tournaments. Forging a bond with each other through those activities could be the key for club volleyball to get back on track.

“It’s more of a unified group since the underclassmen are the majority of this team,” Rushman said.

Club volleyball made a name for itself nationwide earlier in the season; both men’s and women’s squads finished in third place at the national tournament last season. Making the necessary leap between now and April depends on eliminating mental lapses, which lead to avoidable errors.

“(We have) some hitting errors, hitting into the block, hitting out, some serving errors throughout the day that are such improvable things that we can do,” sophomore outside hitter Erin Hughes said.

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