Season-Ending Thoughts

MADDY CUTLER ’17
This past weekend was a whirlwind of new experiences from the NCAA tournament to the end of my first college season.  On Thursday, we left around 7:30 in the morning for an eight-hour drive to Atlanta.  When we arrived, we had a quick one hour practice in the Emory gym in order to get a feel for the gym and get some reps in before our match on Friday.  Friday morning we also got in the gym for a 25-minute practice in order to do some serve and pass.  In between our morning practice and the game we had smoothie king (yumm), went back to the hotel to do some homework, and had a pregame meal at Lettuce Souprise You.   We were all pumped and ready to get on the court.  Our match against Berry was intense, competitive and extremely close.   We were constantly going back and forth and fighting with everything we had.  Our loss against Berry was heartbreaking and meant not only the end of our season, but the last time we would ever play with our seniors.  I’m so proud of my team for battling until the end and this loss just creates more motivation to work hard in the off season, so we don’t experience this again.  The transition to the off season is going to be hard for me because I’m used to walking into the gym every day and seeing my best friends.  I can’t wait to get back in the gym and start preparing for next season.

ELIZABETH HOLLANDER ’17
It was great to experience NCAA’s as a freshman. The atmosphere is so fun and we all had a good time; from the bus ride down, to the nice hotel, to our team meals, to our two away-gym practices, our team managed to get even closer, which I didn’t even know was possible. It was neat practicing in the gym when no other teams were allowed in, while simultaneously being supplied with a surplus of PowerAde. While these sound like little things, they are actually pretty unique to this tournament and create an energy that is really fun to compete in.

While we unfortunately came away with an early loss to Berry, we still managed to put up a strong match against them, losing the second and third sets by a mere two points each time. It’s always hard to end a season, especially with a team as close as ours, but we’ve all learned from this trip and are ready to take on NCAA’s with even more confidence in the future. Regardless of the weekend’s outcome… Go Generals!

MANSIE HOUGH ’16
As a part of the W&L Volleyball Program, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past two seasons is to always be able to find positive takeaways from anything, whether it ended the way we wanted it to or not. My second trip to the NCAA tournament has just reenforced that concept to me as I have been able to find a lot of things to be excited about even coming off a heartbreaking loss. The team came into the game with such a confident and competitive mindset, and progress in the way we approached the first round of NCAAs from 2012 to 2013 was absolutely made. Our team has come so far in mental toughness in the past year, and that was exemplified in the way we played not only in our match against Berry, but also in the practices we had to prepare for the match beforehand. It was an extremely tough loss, as each set was so tight and the final score was 27-25. Every member of the team put her heart and soul into the match, and I think you could see in our devastated reaction to losing the match just how much we love our program and how much our goals and achievements mean to each teammate. Even though it hurts to lose and for the season to be over, I know that this outcome is only going to propel our team into yet another extremely productive offseason. The strides we made in the my first offseason were huge, and there are still improvements to be made, so I can’t wait to see what we do next. Losing in a postseason match to end a season is never, ever easy, but our team’s culture of support and love takes a little bit of the pain away. The W&L Volleyball Program is a very special one, and I can’t wait for all the accomplishments our future has in store for us.

KELLY McMANUS ’15
Going to the NCAA tournament this year was a memorable experience. This is the second year in a row that the team has received an automatic bid by winning our conference, and I am extremely proud of our team for that accomplishment. After a snugly 8+ hour trip down to Atlanta, we practiced in Emory’s facilities. I was impressed by how comfortable the team felt and played in the new environment. Our two short practices before the match were competitive, but not frantic, which definitely showed our team’s maturity in adjusting to the new environment.

While the results of the weekend were definitely not favorable, our team’s play in the NCAA Tournament illustrated the growth we have undergone this year. Our program strongly emphasizes the belief in team culture and everyone definitely contributed to the match. Playing with a group of ladies who are as compelled as this team has been is an experience I’ll always cherish and look forward to improving upon next year. This loss definitely hurt, and knowing that was the last time I’ll play with the seniors honestly feels like losing family members. Even so, playing well in the first round of NCAA’s in an accomplishment our team can definitely be proud of — and work to surpass –moving forward.

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