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Keeping their eye on the prize

Despite losing some games, Concordia’s volleyball team is continuing to reach for this year’s MIAC championship

Volleyball players celebrate their win against Hamline. Submitted photo.

Over the past decade, one word to describe Concordia’s volleyball team would be strong. They have gone to the NCAA national tournament almost every year since 2003, ranking in the top 25 in the country almost every year.

This year, the volleyball team consists of three seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and seven freshmen. For the past 21 seasons, head coach Timothy Mosser, has seen Concordia’s volleyball program transform. Mosser attributes the team’s success this year to the wide range of players and the bond between the women.

“We’ve been very thankful for the upperclassmen for talking to the freshmen and helping them get through this time of change, because it can be difficult and overwhelming,” Mosser said. “We need the freshmen in order to do our best.”

While the team has a solid set of players, Mosser admits that it has been a bit of an unconventional season for the Cobbers.

“This season so far is a bit unusual,” Mosser said. “We’ve been a little less consistent than previous years. We’ve had some injuries, and we’re 3 and 3 in conference; 10 wins and 9 losses overall.”

Junior Olivia Wangensteen believes that despite the difficulties the team has had this year, they are constantly striving to be at their best.

“The season has had its up and downs mostly because we are a fairly young team and just trying to find our identity,” Wangensteen said. “I think we are working towards getting more consistent which is exactly where we want to be at this point in the season.”

Wangensteen suffered from a concussion early on in the season, which has been a blow to the team but that hasn’t affected her ability to be a leader to the team.

“For me personally it was difficult to be injured early in the season with a concussion but I have learned as an upper classman, I have to be a leader regardless of whether or not I am on or off the court.” Wangensteen said.

Although Mosser admits that this season has been more of a struggle compared to others, he has a positive outlook on the situation.

“Sometimes when you experience a lot of success, people can tend to get a bit complacent, Mosser said. “This has been a good wake-up call for us.”

Other volleyball teams in the MIAC have been improving, which has changed the way the game is played. Captain Kelly Reed believes this transformation has made this season more challenging.

“Other teams have improved, so it’s more of an even playing field than it has been in previous years,” Reeds said. “The MIAC has always been strong, and it just keeps getting stronger.”

As a captain, Reed acknowledges that the support she receives from the coaches has enabled her to grow as a player and leader.

“The coaches have interacted with us more and want our opinions, Reed said. “It’s nice to be in more of a leadership role and being in a position where we can make a lot of little decisions for the team.”

Wangensteen talks about how Mosser and assistant coach Bob Jones are helping the team overcome their obstacles.

“We have been working on consistency this year, and the coaches have really have helped us as a team to be mentally tough and competitive. Our mental game is crucial to our success as a team, and our hard work is starting to show,” Wangensteen said.

Reed agrees with Wangensteen’s thoughts about the coaches positive influence on the team and dedication for improvement.

“They’ve definitely had a positive approach about things, but they’re not afraid to get on us. If they know we can do better, they let us know they can do better and help us on how to get there,” Reed said. “We focus on what we need to take care of to be a great team.”

While the team has been very focused and determined this season, they’re not afraid to have a little fun as well.

“We usually jam out in the locker room before warmups which always get us pumped and ready for the game,” Wangensteen said. “Before every game we do a cheer that was passed down through the years.”

Currently the women have control of their game, and Coach Mosser has high hopes for the remainder of the season.

“We still have some good teams left to beat, but we have a good chance of beating them if we communicate competitively and confidently,” Mosser said. “That’s how champions are made.”

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