Volleyball national champions ready for another record season

by Isabel Marhoun

In Dec. 2018 The University of Tampa women’s volleyball team went up against the Western Washington Vikings to determine who would earn the national championship title.  In this grueling five set match, the Spartans came out victorious. It went back and forth between the teams right down to the last set of 15, with the Spartans winning the final set 15-11. This win made the Spartans the team to beat, as they were both NCAA Division II National Champions and were ranked number one in the final polling of the AVCA Division II Coaches poll. After a championship season in 2018, the SSC volleyball teams are gearing up to try and knock off the defending champions 

“The biggest challenge will be ourselves. We do not want to become complacent, just because we feel that as the reigning champions, we have nothing left to prove,” said Head Coach, Chris Catanac, when asked about what he expects from the team this fall. We know that everyone wants to beat us as the national champions, and we know that the league has a lot of great teams that we might not have gotten to play against last season.”

Katie Mckiel, junior outside hitter, expressed how she felt about losing past players and how maintaining chemistry were two key points to be victorious on the court. 

“Last season we had an awesome team with lots of chemistry and we were really solid on offense, especially running a fast tempo middle,” said Mckiel. “This year the team needs to focus on maintaining the chemistry and after losing both of our middles, we are going to have to work hard to incorporate new players and get them up to speed as well as improving defense and serving.” 

Alexandra Misca, graduated middle, ended her senior season with 199 kills and an average hitting percentage of .370 which earned her second best middle in the Sunshine State Conference. Misca was a huge asset to the team, giving them a huge presence on offense. The Spartans also lost another key middle due to injury. 

As the Spartans go into the fall season with Taylor Fosler, junior middle back, injured, it is crucial for the team to re-strategize in the pre-season due to this huge loss at the front of the net. Fosler recorded a high  275 kills and 118 blocks, showing she is a key player on both offense and defense. 

 Chemistry is a vital part of what makes a championship team. If there is skill in each individual player but no harmony or trust between players on the court, then it is likely that a team will fall short. The chemistry and skill of the Spartans is what led the team to victory in 2018.  

Right side junior, Melissa Elias, described her thoughts on what made the team victorious, “We were really good at holding each other accountable as teammates and helping each other anytime that we were struggling on the court.”

Elias described the bond that the team had last year and how they encouraged each other on the court to make each point count. The team helped keep positive spirits up even after tough lost points and this is what led them to win games throughout their thrilling season. “This team chemistry is something that will need to translate onto the next season, especially as a slightly different team will be stepping out onto the court,” said Elias.

On Friday, Sep. 6 , the Spartans will face the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson hawks in Tampa, FL. This match will be the first, in a two-day tournament at the courtyard classic which the Marriott Hotel will be hosting. There are three other teams competing, including the Central Missouri Mules, Valdosta State Blazers, and the Concordia University Bears.

Isabel Marhoun can be reached at isabel.marhoun@theminaretonline.com

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