Volleyball wins HCAC for first time
By any measuring stick, the volleyball season was one for the record books. Winning the program’s first-ever regular season Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship, hosting the HCAC tournament for the first time, and finishing with a sparkling 26-8 overall record and an 8-1 mark in conference play all set standards the program had long been aiming for.
The Pioneers were also the surprise of the conference as league coaches had picked them to finish seventh in a pre-season poll.
“Going into the season, we thought we had the kind of team that could move us to the next level,” said second-year head coach Casey Dale, who played at NCAA Division III powerhouse Juniata College, where he was a part of four national championship teams. “Our players had the physical ability, but just as important, they had the right mental outlook. They were determined to be a better team.”
Since beginning NCAA Division III and HCAC play in 2002, the team’s best showing before this season had been a 15-17 record (4-4 in the conference) in 2007.
Transy fashioned a 13-5 pre-conference record that included winning marks in invitational tournaments at Washington & Lee University (3-1), Transylvania (4-0), and the College of Mount St. Joseph (3-1).
The Pioneers opened HCAC play with a 3-2 victory at Hanover College before dropping their only conference contest, a 3-2 decision at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. A highlight came when they defeated HCAC kingpin Mount St. Joseph, an 11-time conference champion, on the Lions’ home floor. Transy won 11 of its last 12 matches, including nine in a row.
Hosting the HCAC tournament in the Beck Center, Transy blanked Hanover 3-0 in the semifinals but could not prevail against Mount St. Joseph for a second time, dropping a 3-2 contest in the finals and missing out on a chance to represent the league in NCAA championship play.
Senior middle hitter Jordan Geisen (right), senior libero Sarah Sams, and first-year outside hitter Katie Ash were named to the All-HCAC first team. Geisen finished as Transy’s all-time leader in kills while Sams was the all-time digs leader and was also HCAC Defensive Player of the Year. Ash was second in kills to Geisen for the season.
“We’ve had a taste of success,” said Dale, “and now we want to take that next step and qualify for the NCAA tournament. I think we are well positioned to have a strong volleyball program for years to come.”