The VWU Volleyball team began this 2021 season with the foot on the gas pedal, winning the last three matches that they have played. As for now, the team stands in the second position in the ODAC conference with a 3-0 record.
The team has experienced the outcomes that this pandemic has brought in sports. Their first game with fans was on March 27 when they faced Ferrum Panthers. “The first place that we have fans was only for the game against Ferrum, people are doing home spectators and that is pretty much across the board in our conference,” Volleyball team head coach Andrea Hoover said. However, she expressed that the team has adapted very well to these new norms. “They have just been awesome, really resilient and have persevered; they have done an amazing job,” Hoover said.
The Volleyball team this season counts with 5 freshmen in comparison to the 2019 Volleyball team who was a pretty heavy senior team. Coach Hoover expressed that all of these 5 freshmen play an important role in the team “All of them contribute, they are competing for playing time, some are consistently on the floor, some are competing in practice to get opportunities. But they all at some point in the season have been part of our starting lineup and they have brought a lot to what we are doing right now.” Hoover said.
“Our lineup looks different, but I do not think that is a team rebuild. We want to continue to compete at the highest level and continue to compete to win the Conference championship,” Hoover said. She expressed that the team feels really good about the players that they have in their program. “I think we are learning and growing but we are definitely going to be competitive.” Hoover said.
She expressed that this season for the team has been a learning season without taking out the competitiveness. However, she pointed out that the team is playing really well despite the ups and downs that they have been having. “They work hard in practice every day to continue to improve and get better,” Hoover said.
One of the 5 freshmen is defensive specialist Cara Caruso. In the opening ODAC game at Shenandoah, Caruso served up 2 aces and led the defense with 11 digs. Even though now she is a defensive specialist, she started as a setter.
Caruso described that this freshman year for her has been very exciting and that she has high expectations for the team. “I hope that our team will excel exponentially. There is a lot of talent and promise. All the girls are super supportive and really push each other to be better both on and off the court,” Caruso said. She also added, “The team is a family. We all push each other so hard to be better and are always rooting for one another’s success.”
“In terms of performance we are doing very well as a team. We have a lot of strong and talented players and each person brings something special and necessary to our team,” sophomore Jessica Garvie said. Garvie expressed that this season is a very promising season for the team and that she expects to have a really good season.
In her freshman year, Garvie appeared in 5 matches with the Marlins and contributed to the defense having 8 digs on that season. She expressed that since her freshman year some things have changed. “One thing that has changed from last season is the team atmosphere, everyone is always super positive and we all get along great together,” Garvie said. She also added that the freshmen performances have been very important to the team and she knows that they will bring something very special the next three years.
Both the coach and the players, agreed that they are ready to compete for the championship. In the midst of many reasons to win this championship, one of them is that the team wants to do it for Coach Hoover since this will be her last season as VWU Volleyball Head Coach. “We all really want to do it for her,” Caruso said.
Coach Hoover expressed to the Chronicle that she has been really fortunate to have wonderful relationships with the players. “I appreciate them and they seem to appreciate me, the values of our program and what we do everyday. Coaching changes always are difficult but I think that they understand this opportunity for me and they are really excited,” Hoover said.
By Steven Serrano Cruz