Miranda Smith, Campus Carrier Sports Editor
On Tuesday, junior Carson VanCampen was announced as Berry College’s first volleyball player to be selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association first-team selection in program history. Teammates junior Emily Hancock and freshmen Laura Beier also earned All-America honorable mention honors.
VanCampen has now received All-America recognition for the second straight season with her honorable mention recognition last year. After the regular season, VanCampen also earned second consecutive All-SAA first-team and was also selected to the SAA All-Tournament team.
VanCampen said that she wouldn’t have been able to receive her honors and achievements if it weren’t for her team and teammates. They showed her how to lead by example and treat every rep like it’s the last one, to play without fear, and to cheer and support as loud as you can no matter the role played. Naming specific players from the three years of being a part of the program, such as Rachel Ford, Elizabeth Ragland and Hannah Kate Thompson, VanCampen said she was able to learn and absorb their leadership and how to play and love with grace and poise.
“Caitlyn and JT have shown me what it is to play through pain and translate it into fuel to fire my hunger to play hard for my team,” VanCampen said. “This team is the epitome of grit, sacrifice, intent, and genuine love. Berry Volleyball is not perfect and we will probably never be perfect. I will tell you, though, that each teammate, coach, [athletic trainer], and my parents are the reason why I am standing where I am today.”
The women’s volleyball team wrapped up their 2018-2019 season with a 26-4 record in the season. Their season ended with a loss to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the NCAA Semifinals. The program also earned their second straight Southern Athletic Association regular season championship title and other playoff tournament titles.
According to the team’s mission statement, “Berry Volleyball is a family who nurtures growth, cultivates joy, encourages genuine relationships, and promotes excellence within young women who ultimately seek to serve others before themselves.” Head Coach Caitlyn Moriarty described the player-to-coach relationship and how she directed her coaching to real-world situations. Volleyball not only improved their volleyball skills, but also prepared players and encouraged confidence for life after volleyball.
During both regular season and postseason, Moriarty highly emphasized the team’s mental training. Mental training, including confidence, recovery after errors, game preparation, self-talk, visualization and breathing, was a key factor in how the team was able to come back from a loss and be successful in games. Especially in the semifinals, Moriarty shared her thankfulness for the Berry community and the Cage Center atmosphere and said the support in the stands gave the team the extra confidence they needed.
Moriarty praised the team for their successes during the season and reflected on when she first became head coach with the senior class this year.
“The seven seniors have been with me since I was named head coach their freshman year, which is really special,” Moriarty said. “Sacrifice and commitment are the two words that come to mind when I reflect on this specific class and our four years together. It’s a program they’ve helped develop literally from the grassroots. They instilled a legacy of sacrifice and a standard set of selfless commitment, two pillars now ingrained in Berry volleyball. I owe a lot of our success to them.”
Senior Hannah Billiard said the genuine relationships formed among team members, over her four years in the program are what pushed the team to its full potential. She shared how the program has blessed her with mentors and best friends, and how it has shaped her into the woman she is today. Billiard shared her fair share of tears and thank you and praised those who came before her as players, coaches and the seniors with whom she spent her final season.