The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s women’s volleyball team extended their undefeated record to 5-0 against Loras College on Sept. 6. After their opening weekend, they boasted a 4-0 record, their best start in 13 years.
“Any athlete will tell you that the feeling of a home game is a feeling like no other, especially a home game that ends with a ‘W’,” freshman outside hitter Hailey Youngren said.
Even with their current undefeated record, the team remains humble and is working hard to maintain success for the remainder of the season.
“The team morale is extremely high and we have some serious fun together,” senior outside hitter Allison Jensen said. “Our theme this year is ‘greater than I’, meaning that the team comes first under all circumstances. We have really bought into that and the outcome of it is a winning record and a better program in general”.
Last Wednesday’s game started slowly with a first set loss with a score of 22-25. After that initial set, the Pioneers began to build momentum, winning the final three sets more and more handily as the night progressed. The scores of the final sets were 25-22, 25-19 and 25-20.
“The game plan is still the same, and that is that we have goals in mind to prepare for conference. In every practice and every game, we have [that] goal in mind,” head coach Samantha Birkicht said. This is Birkicht’s first year as head coach after serving the program as an assistant.
Their first conference game is Sept. 20 at UW-Stout. Birkicht discussed the importance of involving their middle hitters as viable offensive options. She also cited Ashlee Moore and Katie Jones as being impact players in that position during their home match against the Loras College Duhawks. Senior Allie Carter was described as the “quarterback of the offense,” by Birkicht. Carter’s the team’s starting and primary setter in their 5-1 offense. She has been handling the pressure of bearing this team well and cited not only the players on the court as reliable for Wednesday’s win but also the whole team, even those not involved in on court action.
“Our bench started to get a little bit rowdier, which fired us up out on the court,” Carter said in regards to the slow start in the first set. She was not the only member of this team to claim off court players as a key part of this team’s success. Birkicht described the right side Junior Sarah Murphy as an off-court leader and “the glue and unity of [the team].”
The numbers have so far proven a success for Birkicht. She attributed the current success to her own players, explaining, “They’ve always had these skills and intangibles. Once they realized how amazing they were, they blossomed. I gave them a better mirror to look into.”
The entire team is excited for this season and hope to continue their success as they head into conference play.