Volleyball continues to dominate against competition

Staff Writer

Last season, St. Edward’s University’s women’s volleyball team started off sluggish with a 4-8 record in their first 12 matchups. This season has been a completely different story.

Coming off one of their best starts in the past few years, the Hilltoppers have an impressive record of 12-2, including a perfect 9-0 start. The team captured a championship in Alaska at the Flint Hills Resources Nanook Classic.

A big part of the Hilltopper’s success thus far comes from the stellar play of junior Hannah Rauch. The 5’11 outside hitter, leads the team in points with a total of 169.5; 158 being kills. She also won the tournament MVP at the Nanook Classic.

Invested time on the court this summer has played a pivotal role in Rauch’s success thus far.

“I worked a lot this summer on increasing my shots and getting better technically,” Rauch said. “I think those extra reps have given me a new confidence and if I get a set, I will put the ball away. Confidence is key for me.”

Rauch isn’t the only player on the team that feels confidence is key. Teammate, Kelly Jimenez, who leads the team in digs with averaging almost close to six per set (5.74), feels the same exact way.

“This year we have this confidence on the court that keeps us going steady towards our team goals,” Jimenez said. “It is a huge factor in our wins this year. Not many teams have the luxury that we do. You can look to any of our players to carry us through a game. We expect a lot from each other, and expect a lot from this season.”

Head Coach Sean Donahue couldn’t be more proud of his team’s effort this season.

“We are half way through and (12)-2,” Donahue said. “So I feel we are off to a great start. The team’s ability to focus on what’s important now has sparked the great start.”

As for his team’s strengths and weaknesses, he feels it can play an important role in how the team will finish.

“Our strength is we have a lot of experience,” Donahue said. “The only thing that can be a weakness is we have to stay healthy.”

Seniors Mary Koehler and Amy Jones, who are second and fourth in points, respectively, bring experience and are factors of the team’s success. As for the players staying healthy, Jones is one of the players who is currently battling a lower back injury.

As for other injuries, freshman outside hitter Madison McClurg tore her ACL while playing against Newman University. Prior to her injury, McClurg was also a major factor in the team’s success. In just six games played, she managed to have 47 kills.

But injuries will not alter the goals for the team.

“The attitude of this team has changed radically to a more positive and confident one,” Rauch said. “Our main goal this year is to make it not just to the conference tournament but the NCAA tournament as well.”