For the University of Dallas’ Volleyball team, this past season was defined by an unfortunate streak of injuries affecting many key players. Less experienced players stepped in and replaced veteran athletes kept off the floor by injuries.
At the beginning of the season, the team competed well and entered into conference play with a 5-5 record. But, playing stiff competition in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Associaton (SCAC), including nationally ranked teams like Colorado College and Southwestern University, proved to be a tough test for the team.
The Crusaders finished their season with a 4-10 record in conference games. This was due in part to many experienced players missing time due to injury.
Before the season had even started, sophomore outside hitter and defensive specialist Mary Scholz injured her ACL and could not play a single minute in games. Juniors outside hitter and defensive specialist Jessie Koster, outside hitter Mairin Guilfoyle and setter and defensive specialist Anna Fazio, as well as senior right side hitter and middle blocker Cat Dowgwillo, all played through minor injuries. Most notably, senior middle blocker Jamie Birzer tore her ACL and missed many crucial conference games.
According to sophomore defensive specialist Diana Hassink, the team’s most impressive win of the season was their victory against Trinity University.
“We really just fought hard; we worked together,” Hassink said. “We wanted to beat Trinity for the first time. It was a huge stepping stone.”
Hassink stated that the team’s most frustrating loss was when Texas Lutheran Univeristy beat them 2-3.
“We lost pretty badly the first two sets, but the [third and fourth sets] we came back,” Hassink said. “The fifth set we kind of let them have it, and it was really frustrating after working so hard to get those two [set] wins. It was really hard to see us lose because of lack of desire.”
Birzer and Koster were both critically important players for the volleyball squad.
“Jamie [Birzer] was such a crucial part to our team at the beginning of the season,” Hassink said. “Defensively, Jessie [Koster] was amazing this season. She broke a school record [for most digs in a single season] and should have been [SCAC] defensive player of the year.”
Despite their 11-23 overall record for the 2015 campaign, the team remains optimistic heading into next season. Five experienced juniors will return for the Crusaders. Koster and Guilfoyle will be expected to be the foundation of the 2016 squad. Scholz will return from her ACL injury to play alongside her classmate Hassink, who was an important player for the team this year.
Many of this year’s freshmen, who saw significant amounts of playing time due to injuries to upperclassmen, will continue to contribute to the team.