By Eva Hill
The Pioneer women’s volleyball team continues to perform with excellence, last weekend winning all four matches in the Illinois College Tournament for the second year in a row. Co-captain Kaylin Kuhn ’21 had a total of 65 kills in the tournament, and co-captain Julianna Roth ’22 reached 127 assists over all the matches. Co-captain Hannah Taylor ’21 made five block assists in the win against Trine, and newcomers Rachel Woock ’23 and Emily Nyquist ’23 had an impressive showing of assists, digs, aces, and kills over the course of the tournament. Both Kuhn and Peyton Lowrey ’22 were All-Tournament Team selections.
In the lead-up to the tournament, Kuhn said, “We felt really prepared – we had a great preseason and we were all really, really pumped after our scrimmage against Central [College] the week before. We felt really solid; started off the day a little bit slow, but really built off of that and it just went up from there.”
Taylor added, “We have five first-years, which is a fair amount. We only have two fourth-years, so we have a lot of new energy, which is exciting, and of course, we had all of preseason to learn how to play together and get used to what it’s like to play as this new team with five new people, so the tournament was really great for that, getting some new people in and kind of feeling that out.”
Roth explained that the team is making a point of creating bonding opportunities outside of practice, with the hope of improving communication and teamwork among players. “We’re really making a point to do more team bonding activities, to eat more meals together so that we develop those connections and relationships off the court, which can help us on the court, so I think myself and the other captains were really focusing on trying to create a really strong connection among the girls and a culture so that we can play as best as we can.”
Asked if she thought the team might take home a second perfect record at this year’s conference, Kuhn said, “Personally, I never know. You go in and you play as hard as you can. A lot of them are close; they’re good teams, they have good players. Especially since they’re college teams, the players are always changing, there’s always going to be new talent on the court, so you never know what to expect. The fact that we can go out there and really show what we can do is really great. It’s exciting.”
Last year, Grinnell landed second place at the Midwest Conference with a 7-2 record, behind Cornell College, who finished 9-0. All three captains expressed hope that the Pioneers might take home the first-place title this year.
Roth said, “I’m really excited for this season. We’re now a pretty young team, nine of our players are first- and second-years, and I think that we can really bring the program to where we want it to go, and I think that’s really exciting. It feels like a great opportunity to continue to grow as a program and to continue to get better and hopefully win the conference at some point.”
The Grinnell women’s volleyball team will be competing next at the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Tournament, hosted by the Pioneers and taking place this Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7 in Darby Gymnasium.