The Occidental volleyball team bid farewell to its departing seniors in an emotional victory against the University of La Verne in Rush Gymnasium during Senior Night on Oct. 27. This was the team’s first win against La Verne in the entirety of the seniors’ Occidental volleyball careers.
Prior to the game, the Athletics department honored the seniors in a brief ceremony, thanking them for their contributions to the volleyball program during their four years as Occidental Tigers.
Co-captain Amanda Herold (senior) said seniors walked out with their parents as their career stats were announced to everyone present.
“That was just really emotional going into your last home game, but it was really nice being able to have my parents come out and support me,” Herold said.
Heather Collins has been head coach of Occidental’s volleyball team throughout the senior players’ entire playing career, and was especially excited to see them sent off in such a supportive way.
“The La Verne win was awesome. The main difference was our hitting efficiency and blocking totals,” Collins said. “The senior class was outstanding that night and they have been the driving force behind our success all season.”
The five departing seniors on the team—Amanda Herold, Claire Strohm, Sarah Goetz, Cassandra Guidice and Alex Melikian—have grown very close over their four years together on the volleyball team, according to Herold.
“It has been fun to see each of us grow individually as players and as people,” Herold said.
This group has formed an important core of the volleyball team’s set up, according to co-captain Sabrina Degnan (junior). The younger players on the team have been inspired by both the seniors’ talents and leadership examples and will look to carry forward their legacy in future seasons.
“All of the seniors showed so much leadership and taught us to be persistent and confident in our abilities,” Degnan said. “Each senior on our team was vital to both our team’s success and happiness. They are such a wonderful group of players as well as people.”
The team went on to lose its final game of the season in an away match against Chapman on Oct. 28. While the Tigers did not make it to the playoffs, which Herold admitted was a disappointment, the team ended their season with a respectable overall record of 13–12.
“Sadly, we missed playoffs by just a few games but we are still proud of what we accomplished,” Degnan said. Our league is extremely competitive, so to be competing with some of the best teams in the country in our division was a ton of fun.”
With the seniors leaving the team, Collins looks to continue the program’s progression. Collins admitted that losing such a talented crop of seniors will leave big shoes to fill but was optimistic that members of the team will rise to the challenge alongside next year’s group of incoming players.
“We are losing a large class of five seniors and will need to bring in a recruiting class that can help fill their roles,” Collins said. “It will take a multitude of things as those five brought us outstanding leadership, motivation and heart. However, we are excited about our returners and all of the potential they bring to the team.”
This sentiment was echoed by Degnan, who is sad to lose such a special group of players but hopes to be as successful as possible heading forward.
“I think we have a strong chance of having another very successful year next year, and I am excited to see what next year’s incoming first years will bring to the team,” Degnan said. “Overall, I am excited for next season and the adventure it is going to bring.”