Loyola Phoenix

Women’s Club Volleyball Team Earns Fifth Place at Nationals

The women’s club volleyball team took a big step this spring after finishing in fifth place at the 2015 national tournament. Courtesy of Bennett Wakenight

Loyola’s women’s club volleyball team capped its spring season with a fifth-place finish out of 48 teams at the national tournament in Kansas City, Missouri.

The club is divided into the gold team and the maroon team, the club’s “A” and “B” teams, respectively. Both squads went to three tournaments together this season. They traveled to Marquette University twice and DePaul once.

The second time the gold team journeyed to Marquette was to be ranked for the national tournament. Loyola placed ninth and, as a result, was seeded second in its pool for the first day of nationals.

The team began the first round, which decided the bracket it would play in for the rest of the three-day tournament, with a loss to the University of Virginia. Loyola then went on to beat Oregon State University and Boston College.

The next day, the Ramblers conquered a strong University of Kentucky team before taking down the University of Southern California and Georgia Tech to find themselves in the Gold bracket — which pits the tournament’s best teams against each other — for the remainder of the weekend.

Making it into the Gold bracket was a big deal for the team, which competed in the less competitive Silver bracket last year.

Single-elimination play began April 10. In the first game, Loyola was pinned against undefeated Duke University. The Ramblers came out with a lot of energy and swept the Blue Devils in two sets.

Loyola next faced Virginia in a rematch, but the Cavaliers were too much for Loyola once again. The Ramblers were defeated and ended their season by taking home the fifth-place trophy.

Sophomore president Allison Merkle was proud of her team’s performance at nationals.

“Overall, we were really consistent throughout the whole tournament,” said Merkle. “Everyone was just working together with good energy and we all just had a good game.”

The future looks bright for the young club, which currently has 14 underclassmen, including five freshmen.

Merkle said the team played better this year because of the young players, who have brought a lot of talent and energy to the court.

“Some new members we brought on have really helped us push forward to come in fifth this year, because last year we came in 21st place, so that’s quite a big jump,” she said. “I’m a little surprised with where we finished, but honestly we can compete with the best of them.”

Merkle called sophomore libero Marissa Divine and sophomore right side attacker Adrian Anderson the team’s two most valuable players for the tournament.

“[Divine] played really well. Defense is really key when playing, because if you can’t pass the ball then you can’t hit the play,” Merkle said. “Anderson was another key player for us. Whenever we were in trouble, we always knew we could set her and she would put the ball down. She had really good energy throughout the whole tournament too.”

With the impressive finish at nationals, the team’s spring season has come to an end. Tryouts for next year will take place at the beginning of the fall semester. The Ramblers are scheduled to compete in four fall tournaments next year including their home tournament, the Rambler Rumble, in October.

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