CSB beat UW-Stevens Point in a 3-2 match.

By Nora Doyle
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The historic CSB volleyball team recently became the central regional champions and one of only three teams in program history to make it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament.
This close knit group of women have the ability to enjoy comedic relief but also know exactly when they need to focus.

Right side hitter, junior Hunter Weiss speaks very highly of her team members and how much the excitement meant to all of them.

“We all get along really well, so it is exciting to be able to experience this all together. Individually, it is cool for me to experience, but it’s even cooler to be able to go with an amazing group of girls. There is no other group I would rather go with. I think the key to success for our team is our strong chemistry.” Weiss said.

A strong bond guided the team to their current success. The players dedicate all their effort to love and respect they have for their fellow teammates.

“This season has been one for the books. It’s all of our first time experiencing an Elite 8, and we are all excited. We genuinely get excited when we all do well, and therefore give every point, everything we have, for our teammates.” Weiss said.

Coach Hess instilled a great amount of trust and reliability in her players. The Elite 8 excitement is an ode to the strong preparation Coach Hess has injected into her women.

“She prepared us for the post season by pushing us to get better in every aspect of the game. She pushed for us to increase our communication and effort, which I think really helped in those big matches we played in the regional tournament.“ Weiss said.

Remaining calm and collected is extremely important in a competitive level. The intensity of the quarterfinals requires deep focus.

“When I am warming up I try and focus on the moment. Pregame nerves are natural, but I remind myself that the reason I am here is because I love playing volleyball. I focus on the certain drill/warmup thing I am doing, and before you know it, it’s game time!” Weiss said. “On the court, I try and just have fun. It can be nerve-racking going into a game against tough competition, but my sister always reminds me that we didn’t get lucky. As a team we earned a spot here. It helps keep a confident mindset while in the game.”

One would assume that with games becoming more intense, players would be extremely nervous however. Senior libero Haley LaValle, is excited to leave a lasting mark on her final season.

“It being my last season as not only a Bennie athlete, but collegiate athlete, I have cherished every moment that has faced us this year. Playing at such an elite level is the best way to finish my career. I am honored to be a Bennie volleyball player and even more honored to have accomplished so much with the team I have,” LaValle said.

Gearing up to the game against John Hopkins University, LaValle explains the emotions she has been feeling getting ready for the NCAA tournament.

“It is an honor to be one of the eight teams in DIII volleyball still playing in the last week of the season. I am so proud of the grit, determination and tenacity we showed all last week. That is no surprise as all of those started on day one back in August,” LaValle said.

The Bennies played the Blue Jays at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a position in the semifinals. Results were not available at the time of printing.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LEAH RADO