Author: Ryan Whalen
The Occidental volleyball team (17-10 overall, 10-6 SCIAC) celebrated its Senior night on Friday, commemorating Jessie Altman, Madyson Cassidy, Stephanie Gann, Hanna Hunt and Alyssa Mort with flowers and photos prior to their final collegiate home game inside Rush Gymnasium. The Tigers were able to sweep Redlands (6-22 overall, 3-13 SCIAC), honoring the seniors before closing out the season with a five-set victory over Chapman (17-11 overall, 10-6 SCIAC) on Saturday.
All five seniors — along with Dana Michels (sophomore) and Natalie Dwulet (first-year) — got the starting nod from head coach Heather Collins.
After quickly getting down to a 4-1 deficit in the first frame, the black and orange was able to rally and dominate the rest of the set, winning 25-18.
“There was a lot of chemistry on the court,” Altman said. “We were all really
excited to play together one last time inside Rush [Gymnasium]. I think
it was that dynamic that allowed us to play so well together.”
The seniors led the Tigers in almost all major categories. Gann recorded a match-high 20 kills to go along with five blocks, Altman posted 39 assists and Cassidy led the way defensively with 23 digs.
Mort and Hunt also contributed to the effort. Mort put away nine kills and Hunt scored two service aces.
“Because everyone was doing their job and everyone was playing in rhythm as one unit, I was able to do my job, and I think that was reflected in not only my stats but everyone else’s as well,” Gann said.
Even though the team was limited to regular season play, the seniors ensured that every member of the team worked hard during the campaign to improve for future years. Collins tipped her cap to the corps of players that has led the squad both on and off the court over the past four seasons after the dominant performance on Senior Night.
“Tonight was really big for the seniors because they have put so much
effort into being the best teammates to each other, and I
know it has been a hard year for them not being able to go to the playoffs,” she said. “So to be able to put in the time and effort that they did and get after
it the way they did and get the win in three tonight was really
The Tigers then concluded their season on Saturday with their second 3-2 win over Chapman on the campaign. Gann smashed home a match-high 24 kills, helping her team secure a fourth-place SCIAC finish. Additionally, Gann earned her second First Team All-SCIAC selection Monday, while Cassidy was named to the Second Team for the fourth consecutive year.
“This is exactly how we want to end: on a positive note,” Gann said. “We wanted to leave
our team with a really good attitude, and we wanted recruits to see that
this team can get even better and keep pushing themselves and that it is
a good group to be apart of. I think this program can only go up. I
think we have laid a really good foundation.”
With just 13 players on the roster and a handful graduating, the black and orange will have to lean heavily on underclassmen Michels, Dwulet and Kandace Korver (sophomore) in upcoming years.
But the three have proven themselves capable in all facets of the game.
Michels led the team in kills (336) — just one shy of All-American Logan Boyer-Hayse’s ’13 mark from a year ago — while Dwulet and Korver paced the team in blocks (84) and service aces per set (0.44), respectively.
“I’m really excited to see where this program goes, and hopefully we land
some strong recruits in the upcoming years so we can keep the success
of the program at a high level,” Dwulet said.
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