By Ty Schadt, Staff Writer
The Asbury Volleyball Team has generated great momentum heading into the River States Conference Tournament, which is slated to begin Nov. 11 at Cincinnati Christian University with a quarterfinal match against Indiana University East.
The Eagles sit in second place of the West Division, behind Indiana University Kokomo.
Coach Keith Stowe has been telling his team since the beginning of the season – regardless of their overall record, the conference standings should be their main focus. With a record of 12-4 in conference play, the Eagles have heeded their coach’s advice and put themselves in a prime position for success in postseason play.
After an early exit from the tournament last season, Stowe explained that his expectations for this coming tournament are the same as they have been all year: “compete together as a family that loves and supports one another to the end.”
And compete, they have. The team has been led by tremendous play from upperclassmen, several of which rank nicely in RCS statistical categories. Junior middle blocker Kayla Morlan is first in hitting percentage and fifth in kills per set, with 278 total on the season. Junior left side hitter Madeline Morris is eighth in kills per set and fifth in hitting position and junior setter Rachyl Miller is eighth in assists per set, with a total of 480 on the year. Senior middle blocker Hillarie Dyck ranks fifth in blocks per set with 93, while senior libero/defensive specialist Carly Butler is third in digs per set with her total of 467.
Last season, the team entered the conference tournament as the fourth seed and was upset by fifth seed Indiana University Southeast. This was a rather disappointing end after having an impressive season highlighted by a 21-4, (9-3 RSC) record. Stowe claimed the team “slumped and lost focus” towards the end of last year, causing them to “underachieve” in the tournament.
Expectations for this coming tournament are the same as they have been all year: compete together as a family that loves and supports one another to the end.
However, this year the Eagles appear to be in a better position. They will be the number two seed when they go up against the third-ranked IU-East.
In addition, the team is in great spirits. “I’m excited going into the postseason, and I think all of our girls will give their full efforts for the team and more importantly for Christ,” said Butler.
Junior libero/defensive specialist Bailee Settle said, “I expect that we will do pretty well. We just have to come ready to play and leave it all on the court.” And why shouldn’t they expect to do well? This sense of confidence is imperative for any team wishing to compete, and seeing as the Eagles have already bested everyone in their division, it’s justified.
A message Stowe has been preaching to his team is as follows: “We have our best volleyball ahead of us. There isn’t a team in our conference that we can’t compete with.” Given their performance throughout the regular season, it’s difficult to argue with him.