Author: Oliver Field
The Occidental volleyball team started the season ranked 23rd in the nation for Division III colleges and has lived up to its high expectations thus far. Led by All-American captain Logan Boyer-Hayse (junior), the women climbed as high as number 22 this past week. Most recently, Occidental defeated Cal Tech at home on Sept. 24 in shutout fashion at 3-0. The Tigers have started the year off on the right foot, winning crucial games against nationally-ranked opponents on multiple occasions. On the road against several non-conference teams, the Tigers toppled the 23-ranked Trinity University with a score of 3-1. The next day, the Tigers faced 10-ranked Southwestern University and again came out on top. These big wins against ranked opponents are all the more impressive when considering their tough road schedule. The girls have only had one home game through their first 10 matches. This type of travel usually takes a toll on a team, but the Tigers are staying strong and maintaining their national ranking. New head coach Heather Collins took the helm following a 13-year career as an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount University. Collins is off to a great start with the young team. “In order for our team to have success this season, we must compete like the top-25 team we are capable of being,” she said. After conceding their first game to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school Master’s College, Occidental went on a win-streak, taking six straight victories against top opposition and earning that desired top 25 ranking. At the Posada Invitational Tournament in Thousand Oaks on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10, the Tigers won four straight games over four strong west coast schools: Willamette, Lewis and Clark, George Fox of Oregon, and Chapman. The team then took a trip to the Trinity National Invitational in Texas, where their tough preseason schedule continued. These early victories created momentum and spirit that fostered a positive attitude amongst the young team, one that they hope to carry into conference play over the coming weeks. Boyer-Hayse, whose play has been incredible according to Collins, and a deep sophomore class provide the young Tigers with results this season and also allows future growth of the program.
Despite a narrow loss on the road to the Regals last Wednesday, they will look for revenge in a rematch on Oct. 21 at home. The team is looking for a large home crowd after gaining support from the students, who have noticed their success. Collins feels the girls are on the right track to do big things. “I am looking forward to guiding our team to success both on and off the court,” she said.
As the Tigers begin to get in the familiar rhythm of SCIAC volleyball, they can only hope to achieve more success and contest for the league title and a trip to the NCAA tournament. The team will take to the court again on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. as they travel to Whittier College ready to pick up yet another SCIAC victory.
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