With the semester winding down, the women’s volleyball team played their first spring exhibition game of the year on Apr. 28 at Johns Hopkins University, and their last upcoming on May 6 against Dickinson College. It’s a bittersweet moment for this squad, especially their seniors.
However, they are not letting that get to them, as Alycia Long ‘21 has expressed.
“Our team has faced all that’s been handed to us with such passion for growing as teammates and getting better together. We have a sister-like bond,” she said.
Her teammate and defensive specialist, Maya Illovsky ‘21, adds even more to this sentiment.
“First off, I just want to say how hard-working and resilient all these girls have been all semester regardless of the circumstances. The freshmen continue to amaze me with their skills and knowledge as well as how well they have been able to come in and gel with our team and the culture we try to maintain within our team,” Illovsky said. “Each and every girl on this team has made it so easy to look forward to each and every practice knowing that we are inching our way closer to graduation. Everyone works so hard, there is never any let up and we are able to keep the energy high and practices fun. I can say that it makes me sad knowing that my time with these girls is coming to an end, but I find comfort knowing that they are going to accomplish great, big things in the future.”
Having such high energy will bode well when life is able to return to normal.
However, the team is focused on the present and their two exhibitions that serve as a way to give the seniors their well-deserved send off, as well give new players a chance to transition to playing at the collegiate level who have not had the opportunity. The coaching staff so far has done a phenomenal job preparing this team and getting them back into shape after what has been almost a year hiatus.
“Coach Rob, Shannon, Dawn, Allen and our student managers David and Treyvon have worked so hard too to help whip our butts into shape and have managed to keep practices tough and effective as well as fun,” said Illovsky. “I’m really so lucky to have had a season at all this year, but I am truly the luckiest just to be around these girls and coaching staff each and every day. The support and dedication is unmatched and I am so happy to have had them have my back these past few weeks.”
The team had high energy throughout the entire experience playing Hopkins, from hopping off the bus to the match itself.
“Our team played with grit, fire and want. We had a blast being back in a game-day setting. From the bus ride to game play, our energy was bright and never dimmed,” said Long.
While this was their first game in awhile, they came out with a great attitude and excitement.
“Of course, with each game and especially the first game of the season there is a little bit of antsiness and nerves that just are natural but also this overwhelming feeling of excitement in heading onto a court for game time again,” said Illovsky. “Johns Hopkins was a thrilling match in that we were able to see great competition and not only that but we all played our hearts out and really had each other’s backs out there. We had a number of different lineups and were able to play confidently regardless of who we were standing next to. This team is so versatile and talented, where we were able to compete so wholeheartedly and have fun in doing so.”
For this team, to be able to play again was a dream come true and something that many did not think would be possible given the state of what is happening with the pandemic.
For the seniors on this team, they are grateful to be able to have this final moment before graduating.
“I’m so excited to play my last collegiate volleyball match with some of my favorite people. We’ve been through so much together and [it’s exciting to] end against a competitive team and take in these final moments with my girls,” said Long. “We’ve worked really hard this semester, and I cannot wait to see what this program can do next fall.”
“This is going to be the last time that seniors Alycia, Becca [Shear] and I are going to be putting on our Muhlenberg College jerseys — which is just crazy emotional to think about. Going out onto that court on Thursday, I’m most looking forward to simply having fun. I have no doubt in the abilities we can bring onto the court and in the competitive drive and hustle we all have, which makes this all even more exciting,” said Illovsky.
“This is our last time ‘balling out’ together. I love these girls so much and I know this game will be one of the most memorable of my four years here. I’m just really feeling so lucky to have these girls and coaches on my side for this one last go on the court.”
*All statistics and information correct as of publication.