Team uses momentum

Culture, chemistry helps volleyball improve


Courtesy of UWO Athletics– Carissa Sundholm leaps for the ball in UWO’s match against UWRF.

Nolan Swenson, Sports Co-Editor

After rebuilding from COVID-19 struggles the UWO volleyball team has maintained full speed ahead by continuously building off each other, with constant discipline and teamwork.

This has been accomplished through the utilization of what could be seen as problems for other programs.

Through the difficulties of COVID-19, the team utilized the time to drill and practice until they went 19-12 and third in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) for the 2021 season.

Now they have utilized momentum from last year and the opportunity of a young team including 10 freshmen, in order to create an amazing team culture and chemistry in order to improve like never before.

Kalli Mau, a sophomore setter, has noticed how their cohesion and discipline on the court and at practice had led to a very successful season.

“We have a very good team dynamic and the relationships we have with each of our teammates is so strong,” she said “We know that we can look to any one and they will help us out on the court. We go into every game expecting to see the best from that team, so we are good at not underestimating anyone.”

With such a large freshmen class, this has forced the rest of the team to step up in order to better rear the new recruits into the team, a role that can fall heavy on her, as being a setter puts you in charge of coordinating the offense.

“All the returners had to bring leadership and set the standards for our team,” Mau said. “As time has gone on, we’ve built relationships with each of them, and our team chemistry is better than ever. We have so much depth with each position which pushes every player to be better.”

Maximum effort is expanded mentally and physically as the team grinds hard in the gym to improve their physical play, as well as trying to understand what they do wrong through film.

“We still work extremely hard in practice,” Mau said. “Our drills lead into play which helps us build up competitiveness throughout practice. We also debrief after every practice and game which is where we go around stating things that have gone well that day and things that we can improve on for the next practice.”

Riley Dahlquist, a freshman middle blocker,  joined the UWO volleyball roster after a successful high school career, but still has troubles with the pressure that DIII athletics brings.

“Going back to my junior year my team won state, senior year we didn’t go to state but we still were a really competitive program,” she said “But the transition to college was a lot more competitive, and the transition to managing all of my work and practice got a lot more complicated.”

And with the pressure that the team puts on her, she also received support as a new member.

“The returners brought us under their wing in the program and it really helped us be a part of the culture together,” she said. “I think that’s why we’re so successful, everyone wants to be together on the court. Being able to trust the people I’m on the court with has really helped to alleviate the pressure on me. There’s so much depth and trust in the team, that the pressure never falls on one individual due to how supportive and effective our team is.”

Due to both pressure and support Riley Dahlquist has become a far better player, even getting playing time as a freshman.

“Being able to come in and play as a freshman is a big honor, and something that I’ve always worked for,” she said. “but I couldn’t do it without my team supporting me.”

With a record of 22-4 Tuesday, The rest of the season, and even postseason looks bright for UWO volleyball, and Riley Dahlquist sees that.

“I’m very excited to see what the team has to give in the next few weeks,” she said. “We’re at the point in our season where we start to think about our postseason run. Right now we’re super driven to work for the WIAC Championship and then move on to the NCAA.”

Saturday, UWO faced off against UW-River Falls, with a sweeping victory of 3-0. The first two sets of the game were major wins, with a point difference of 10. The final set however, was the closest UW-RF came to a win, with a score of 27-25.

This win has given the Titans an 11 win streak, as well as giving the team a winning percentage of .846.

UWO volleyball will spend Friday and Saturday in Elgin, competing in the Elmhurst University Invitational. On Friday, they will face off against Albion College (Mich.). Saturday’s matches will be against Carthage College and Elmhurst College (Ill.) respectively.