The 2011-12 Pacific volleyball team had its ups and downs throughout the season, yet the players and coaches both state that winning alone is not the only way they determine their success.
The team began their season with strong wins while on the road traveling from New York to California.
In the rest of the season, the players and coaches met with some struggles and injuries that set the team back. For the lady Boxers, it hasn’t been all about winning.
The coaches and players are proud of the growth of the team and how they worked together to overcome obstacles in their way.
“We are proud of the team this year for overcoming so much adversity,” said Head Coach Lena Chan. “We were able to overcome some early season injuries and win many matches with a ‘next player up’ mentality. The success of this year’s team is due to the ‘team first’ attitude of the players and their willingness to support each other not just as teammates, but also as people.”
Two major injuries affected the Pacific team this season. Keahi Braginsky-Ahloo missed five weeks due to an injury and Alexa Block, Northwest Conference leader in kills per set, had a season-ending shoulder injury.
The team also suffered the loss of two key starters who stated that they were no longer attending Pacific University. All of these setbacks did not keep the team from giving the game their all and enjoying their season.
“The team this year was exceptional. We were all on the same page to work toward our goals of getting to the top of the conference,” said senior and defensive specialist Brittney Johnson. “We fought all season long. It wasn’t an easy feat this year; every team in the conference had something to bring to the table. We had to fight for it. The team this year consisted of such great girls and it was such a pleasure playing with everyone.”
All of the players agree that their favorite part of the season was the match against the school third ranked in conference, Puget Sound.
“We beat the top-ranked team who were also ranked 23 nationally. We were all extremely pumped,” said sophomore and middle blocker Mariah McHolland. “It was very entertaining for the crowd and us as well. It was one of the greatest feelings to be their first loss of the season, especially when we were ranked last in our conference and they were ranked first or second. Coming off of that win also added a lot of confidence to our team and the way we carried ourselves and played.”
Coaches Chan and Glass complimented all of their players on their growth throughout the season, yet two players really defined Pacific volleyball this season. The coaches said junior Jadelyn Thompson is the best libero in the conference.
“Her defensive prowess takes a backseat to no one,” they said.
The second player that took center stage this season was the conference leader in hitting percentage, senior Kelsey Takashima.
“We call her ‘TakaMama,’ because as the elder player of the group, everybody looks up to her,” said Glass. “She has one of the best work ethics I have ever been privileged to coach.”
Noting that the team’s defense has been the reason for their success, the coaches acknowledged Thompson, Johnson and senior Mari Kondo for their extreme efforts to never let the ball hit the floor.
“Overall, we are excited about this season,” said Chan and Glass. “Building this program has taken a few years, but one can now clearly see the positive direction and intention of the Pacific volleyball program.”
The team finished their season fifth out of nine teams in the Northwest Conference. The coaches note that for next season they will be looking to recruit middle blockers and opposites to fill the spaces of the three graduating seniors.