Behind Volleyball’s recent success

Nolan Swenson, Sports Co-Editor

Throughout this season, UW Oshkosh volleyball has had great success, going 19-4 and maintaining high win streaks, but what has contributed to such a great season?

According to Head Coach Jon Ellman, he feels the benefits they reap now, comes from the continued culture last season on, and the culmination of ‘what they did in the dark’.

“There’s obviously a bunch of reasons, last year we were at our best at the end of the season and were performing really well,” he said. “We came close to a lot of really important midwestern wins. For our returners, that was really motivating because we felt that we didn’t get as much out of our season as we could have.”

One of the biggest hurts of the last season was the failure to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament despite tremendous growth from the team in the Covid-19 off-season.

“It really hurt seeing other team names get called for the NCAA tournament,” he said. “Returners felt that hurt.”

Since the season left off last summer there have been a few constants for the team: weightroom, time on the courts, and intense grit.

The grit has been incredibly important, and the team defines it as, “passion and perseverance for long term goals.” Those goals from last year are being achieved; which puts the team on the right track in coach Ellman’s point of view.

“We are going to maintain course, the strength of our team right now revolves around the willingness of our team to stay in an intense evolutionary cycle,” he said. “We prepare tenaciously and then get out there and perform.”

After a performance, the team’s first step is always reflection, win or lose.

“We’re not worried about the outcome, but getting after it, this is what’s keeping the group sharp as we get after it,” he said. “[We’re] not worrying about big or little matches as there is no such thing. What we’re presenting this season is grit.”

The team is young this year, as there are only four upperclassmen, seven sophomores, and ten freshmen, which is the largest incoming class in recent history. Every team is unique, this year is unique due to the size and the learning ability of the incoming class to understand what it takes to be successful in our season and even make it to the NCAA.

Currently one of the greatest assets this team has developed is diversity, which not only allows players to step in when it gets tough, but to help give team members the greatest amount of challenge in practice.

“Our team is very diverse with our positions,” Coach Ellman said. “This gives us spectacular offensive diversity, which helps us if someone has an injury, which is a huge piece that does not get discussed enough. Very few skills separate #1 and #21, everyone is able to help another grow: “iron sharpens iron.”

Looking forward to how the latter half of the season shows a lot of challenges that UWO will have to navigate through as the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) is very strong in volleyball this year.

“In general, the WIAC schedule is a meat grinder, we have four or five teams that have 17 plus wins in our conference,” he said. “This makes this one of the conference’s best years, meaning there is no night that we can take off, giving us a lot of character and making us respect everyone left on our schedule.”

UWO played Wheaton College and Edgewood College at Wheaton on Tuesday and won both matches with scores of 3-2 and 3-0, respectively.