Joshua Mabry, Campus Carrier sports editor
The Berry Vikings volleyball team has wrapped up regular season Southern Athletic Association (SAA) conference play and is optimistic about both the rest of its regular season at the Emory National Invitational and the SAA conference tournament.
Going into the Emory National Invitational and postseason, the team is ranked No. 9 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-25 for National Collegiate Athletic Association (DIII) colleges. The team has posted a 21-4 overall record and 12-2 SAA record this season.
Head Coach Caitlyn Moriarty said that she is really proud of where her team is right now.
“Our conference is one of the strongest in DIII volleyball and we’re excited to be heading into our conference tournament in a few weeks,” Moriarty said. “We always focus on the process and having a growth mindset and we know we still have room to improve, which is exciting and motivating.”
Moriarty said that she is especially proud of where the team is because seven seniors graduated last year and there are five freshmen on this year’s team.
“We’re young overall and we knew there are peaks and valleys that come with that,” Moriarty said.
Going forward this season, Moriarty said that she wants her team to remember to celebrate the small successes and to stay focused during hardships in order to stay hungry.
Although the Vikings are in a great place, this season has had some rarities, such as major player injuries for the team, according to Moriarty.
“It’s forced roles to change at times and allowed others to step up to the plate,” Moriarty said. “Every player on our roster has truly made an impact on the court this fall.”
In addition to success for the team this season, Moriarty earned her 100th career win as a coach at the match against Centre College on Oct. 26.
She said that it was very special to earn her 100th win. However, earning this 100th can be a celebrated effort by assistant coach JT Oates, and the team’s three seniors, setter Jordan Leitch, outside hitter Emily Hancock and middle blocker Carson VanCampen as well, according to Moriarty.
Looking at her senior class, Moriarty said that she is proud of their perseverance throughout the past four years.
“They’ve each grown so much in different ways and put in so much effort to be better volleyball players, teammates, leaders over the years,” Moriarty said. “They should be proud of the legacy they’re leaving.”
Leitch said that she has felt an enormous amount of love from her team coming in and accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish this season.
“Coming in with nine underclassmen, being the majority of our team, they have all really stepped it up this year considering that some of them needed to play and I think they really took on that challenge head on and with a lot of fierce and a lot of passion for the game,” Leitch said. “I believe that this season has been overall really great.”
VanCampen said that the team is doing a great job of playing together this season and adjusting in certain situations.
This season has been full of grit and hard work, according to VanCampen.
Going forward, Leitch said that she hopes to finish the season strong. She said that there are only four guaranteed games left this season, so this makes everyone on the team want to gain another win and ultimately another conference championship.
VanCampen said that the volleyball team is always there for each other, whether a win or loss.
“I hope whatever the outcome is with this season, we are just very proud of our efforts and we have fun along the way and we understand that any peak or valley, there’s joy in it,” VanCampen said.
Leitch said that the biggest challenge to overcome going forward is the adversity that the team has already faced this season, especially in regards to the injuries that they have faced.
“I think we have overcome that really well as a team and it really has united us overall,” Leitch said.
VanCampen echoed Leitch and said that adversity is something that Berry will have to overcome in the final games of the season. She also said that fighting for wins and points is something else that will be a challenge for the Vikings going forward.
“For the most part, our underclassmen really only know winning, whether it be playing with us or watching some games from the sidelines before they came to Berry,” VanCampen said. “We as upperclassmen, we know what it’s like to lose, especially in really high pressure situations.”
VanCampen said that keeping the mindset of everyday as a battle where they will have to fight for another win will be crucial for Berry going forward.
Hancock said that her favorite part of both this season and her time on the volleyball team in general is the fun memories that she has made with her team.
The volleyball team continues its season at the Emory National Invitational on Nov. 1 and 2. Berry will face Washington and Lee University at 4 p.m. and No. 1 Emory University at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1.
The team will then face Randolph–Macon College at 10 a.m. on Nov. 2 before facing Rhodes College in the SAA quarterfinals as the #2 seed on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at Birmingham-Southern College, the #1 seed.