The Big Sky Conference announced on Aug. 12 that all fall competitions would be postponed to spring of 2021, which means the Weber State University volleyball team, like many others, are facing an unusual fall this year.
The Swenson Gym still sees the hustle and bustle of the team, but that’s it. The once-packed gymnasium now only houses the preseason practices for the Wildcats.
Head Coach Jeremiah Larsen is entering into his sixth season with the Wildcats after ending last season with an overall record of 26–9 and 13–5 in conference play.
The Wildcats are coming off a stellar season where they defeated Southern Utah and Northern Arizona before falling to Northern Colorado in the Big Sky Championship match last November.
After the conference tournament, the team defeated Boise State and Wyoming at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship in Arlington, Texas, before losing to Tulsa in the third round, making it the final game of their 2019 season.
There are three seniors returning to the court: Rylin Adams as an outside hitter, Sam Schiess as a middle blocker and Ashlyn Power as a setter.
In 2019, Adams earned All-Big Sky Academic team and All-Tournament team, Schiess earned All-Big Sky Academic team and Power earned All-Big Sky Academic and Conference first team as well as All-Tournament team.
Going in to their fourth year as Wildcats, there was a whirlwind of emotions at the thought of their final season potentially slipping out of their grasp.
“We’ve tried to roll with punches and control what we can control,” Adams said. “It’s easy to sit there and be mad about our season not being in the fall, but it’s been good to have the extra time to prepare for our season.”
The 2021 season hasn’t yet been announced, but the ‘Cats are looking at this as an opportunity for growth. With COVID restrictions, there have been multiple schools and teams that haven’t been able to practice.
The Wildcats are entering the 2021 season, tied for second along with Northern Arizona and behind Northern Colorado in the Big Sky Volleyball preseason poll.
In total, there will be four upperclassmen on the team. Alongside three seniors, Cici Collins is a junior libero who transferred to WSU from Houston Baptist University.
“We’re using this fall to develop as a team,” Schiess said. “And when the NCAA came out and said the year wouldn’t count against our eligibility, we were pumped.”
Meanwhile, there are three redshirt sophomores: Emily Olson, a setter, Dani Nay, an outside hitter and Emma Mangum, a middle blocker. Three redshirt freshman are also amongst the roster: Riley Weinert, an outside hitter, Kate Standifird, a setter and Caroline Clark, a middle blocker.
Three freshmen round out the roster: Makayla Sorenson and Nicole Hedrick — both outside hitters — and Liana Woodley, a middle blocker.
“We had an awesome season last year, and I want to see us build off of that,” Power said. “We won’t go down without a fight.”