Volleyball ranked 1st in ODAC

Featured Image: Senior libero Cara Caruso attacks the ball. James Hill | Courtesy

The Women’s Volleyball team began their season with an impressive winning streak. The team won the first 10 games of the season, and in a preseason poll, the team was ranked 2nd overall in the ODAC rankings. As of Sunday, Oct. 1, the team is ranked first in the conference as the only undefeated team in conference play.

Coach Karissa Cumberbatch has been coaching the women’s team for two years and now coaches the new Men’s Volleyball team as well.

“I think over the years, with the former coach, team dynamic has always been something that we’ve really focused on. Everyone’s vision and goals were the same, and they really felt like everybody was on the same page,” Cumberbatch said. “To see how seamlessly the freshman fit into that group was definitely a part of our early success this year.”

Graduate student Abby Mahoney was named ODAC player of the week on Sept. 18 after her performance in the team’s away games during the week of September 13-17. Mahoney had a personal best with 23 kills, which is tied for third all-time at VWU for the most kills in a single game. This is the first time a Marlin has recorded 20 or more kills in a single game since Oct. 2018. Mahoney had a .409 hitting percentage, two digs and one block assist. She got the final kill of the game to seal the 3-2 win over ODAC opponent Randolph Macon to open up conference play.

 For any coach, regardless of what sport, they all have similar goals of success for their team. “In previous years, our goal has always been wanting to win another championship and wanting to get back to the NCAA tournament,” Cumberbatch said. “This year, we’ve changed that focus and not putting so much pressure on winning that championship, but playing to our potential all the time. If we rise to that challenge and do these things every day, the championship will come on its own.”

With only so many matches left in the season, student, staff and faculty support is always welcomed. 

“I think the athletic department does a great job of supporting one another when we can, but we have thought a lot about how to get the regular student body involved. I do think that the addition of the men’s team has definitely helped that culture a little bit. Just that extra support system has really helped just the overall environment,” Cumberbatch said. 

Senior Cara Caruso has been on the team since her freshman year. 

“I think that this is the best team both physically and mentally. Mentally, this is the best group that we’ve had in my four years of being here. That has a huge impact, especially in volleyball with it being a mental game,” Caruso said. “When you have the physical and mental capacity to do good things, it really helps, and I think we saw that within those first 10 games.”

 The team hopes to secure more and more wins as the season continues. “Coming in this season, we kind of all had a chip on our shoulder and getting number two seed was honestly like a blessing. Even the first-years coming in immediately brought the mentality that was needed,” Caruso said.

Junior Jenna Waters has also been on the team since her freshman year.

“I definitely think that this year is different from past years in that we’re all very together all the time. We all within our positions are very close to each other, and we want each other to be better and it’s competitive in a good way,” Waters said.

Recently, the school added a Men’s Volleyball team, and it has definitely made a difference for the women’s team.

“Having a guys team has helped a lot with our chemistry and just hanging out together too. We have more fans, and we have all that support all the time. I’m excited to do the same for them when it’s their season in the spring,” said Waters.

The women’s team is back on the court Oct. 7 when they play ODAC opponent Washington and Lee University at 11 a.m. and Salisbury University at 4 p.m. Both games take place in TowneBank Arena at the Jane B. Batten Student Center.


By: Chloe Booher