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SEU volleyball athletes earn Heartland Conference team selections

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SEU volleyball athletes earn Heartland Conference team selections

The SEU volleyball finished the season with a respectable 18-12 record that saw three athletes earn conference recognition.

The SEU volleyball finished the season with a respectable 18-12 record that saw three athletes earn conference recognition.

Odett Ochoa

The SEU volleyball finished the season with a respectable 18-12 record that saw three athletes earn conference recognition.

Odett Ochoa

Odett Ochoa

The SEU volleyball finished the season with a respectable 18-12 record that saw three athletes earn conference recognition.

Odett Ochoa, Sports Writer

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St. Edward’s University’s volleyball season was one for the books, as new coaches, record-breaking performances and a final season in the Heartland Conference highlighted their year.

A new era for the program was established with Stefanie Holler’s as a first-year head coach and Jared Te’o as an assistant coach for the team.

With a tough schedule and one last chance to make a Heartland tournament run, SEU exceeded expectations by qualifying for the Heartland Tournament with a 7-5 conference record.

Wrapping up four years with the program, seniors Alexa McAndrew, Mikayla Parker and Morgan Beckham earned conference recognition in their final season.

The three seniors share that their friendship is a key component that contributed to their success. Volleyball is a team sport that requires everyone to do their job to achieve both the point and win. The shift in coaching was a key factor in helping these veterans reach their full potential.

Outside hitter Alexa McAndrew was selected to be a part of the Heartland All-Conference First Team, as she finished the season with over 300 kills and 300 digs. Having career highs of over 20+ kills and 25+  digs, McAndrew was on a tier of her own for much of the season.

McAndrew said her conference acknowledgment is something she is very proud of.

“It’s great, it’s definitely not something I expected. But it’s a testament to how hard the team played and worked this year,” McAndrew said. “I obviously wanted to achieve great things in my four years of volleyball, but I wanted to play my volleyball career with no regrets and achieve all I could.”

Although, McAndrew will graduate in May, the senior has a year of eligibility remaining as a result of redshirting her sophomore year for medical reasons. With many decisions left to make, McAndrew took this year as an opportunity to play with her graduating class one last time. 

“Beginning of the season I came in and said I wanted to play the season with no regrets. I wanted to play for the girls I came in with, play for the team and all of us to play for each other,” McAndrew said. “It was a great season. The coaching dynamic was amazing this year. They really helped us prepare and execute what we needed to in games and this team played with a lot of heart this year.”

Fellow middle hitter Mikayla Parker joins McAndrew, as she was also chosen for the Heartland All-Conference First Team. Parker had an impressive season, as she broke the SEU record for most blocks in a  three-set game and had games with 10+ blocks and 15+ kills. Parker reminisces about her goals and accomplishments as a senior.

“Coming into the season I always wanted to improve. Last year I got an honorable mention, so I wanted to get the next step. Being able to accomplish that goal was awesome,” Parker said. “It recognizes all of your hard work and everything that you put into it, so it’s nice to have everything you have worked hard for recognized as a whole.”

Parker credits her coaching staff and the environment they created for her and the team.

“I could not have done it without them. Everything that the coaches have done this year has been so incredible. (The) preparation, family bonding (and) the atmosphere that they created…put everything into perspective,” Parker said.

Fellow teammate Morgan Beckham was also recognized as she was awarded Heartland Conference Libero of the Year award, while also earning a spot on the Heartland All-Conference First Team. She finished her final season with over 600 digs and had games with 30+ digs. A four-year libero and defensive specialist for the team, Beckham attributes much of her success to her peers.

“Especially with defense, I feel like it 100% depends on the team. They set up the block and they do everything to make it work, so without the team I couldn’t have done anything near what I did. I think the coaching this year was amazing; they were so encouraging.” Beckham said. “It’s really special. It’s a good way to go out and make it really memorable last year. Finishing it strong was great.”

Throughout her decorated career, falling short of winning in the Heartland Tournament is only a small portion of how she will remember her career at SEU.

“The goal, obviously, is to go to the NCAA tournament. But I’ve really loved every step of the way and everything we’ve done and I can’t really ask for much more,” Beckham said.

The season ended earlier this month during the Heartland Conference tournament, as SEU fell short to Fort Smith, Arkansas. This year, the team moved past the first round in postseason play since 2014. With new coaching and a group of capable underclassmen, the future is bright for the SEU volleyball team.

 

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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University
SEU volleyball athletes earn Heartland Conference team selections