‘The energy really pushes us forward:’ Athletes of the Week Lizzy Kerman and Cian Concannon stand out in home games

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Cian Concannon (junior), this week’s Athlete of the Week, is a member of the water polo team. Photo courtesy of Sam Leigh. Lizzy Kerman (sophomore), this week’s Athlete of the Week, is a member of the volleyball team at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 17, 2021. Theodore Tang/The Occidental

Lizzy Kerman

Outside hitter Lizzy Kerman (sophomore) was the leader in kills (hits that directly result in points) during the Occidental women’s volleyball team’s 3-1 victory over CalTech Sept. 26. The Tigers won the first set of the home game, fell to a close 25-22 defeat in the second set, and then went on to win the next two sets to clinch the victory.

Kerman has been a consistent leader in kills for the team thus far this season, close behind fellow outside hitter Skye Garcia (sophomore).

Because SCIAC competitions were cancelled her first year of college, the 2021 season is Kerman’s first opportunity to compete as a collegiate athlete. Kerman said that being able to consistently be a starter and help the team win feels incredible, and although she was able to meet her teammates over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic, being with them in person has a different energy.

“Being in the collegiate environment is so much more intense than high school or club. Volleyball is a team sport, and we are constantly pushing each other for those starting spots. This is some of the best volleyball I’ve been a part of,” Kerman said.

According to Kerman, being able to play at Occidental’s home court with fans is a special experience.

We thrive off of large home crowds. When the gym lights up, the energy really pushes us forward.” Kerman said.

According to teammate Lindsey Nurse (sophomore), Kerman is setting an example for the team through her work ethic and commitment, despite her lack of experience playing at the collegiate level.

In volleyball, players rotates clockwise through each of the six positions every change of serve. Nurse said Kerman often plays all six positions in volleyball for the entire set; so although her primary position is an outside hitter, Kerman has pushed herself to improve her versatility.

Nurse said Kerman has led by example in everything she does, whether she is hustling for every ball or laying down a spike.

Kerman said Occidental’s performance at the Colorado Spike It Up Tournament, Sept. 10–11 showed the team’s potential to keep up with some of the top-ranked teams in the nation.

According to Garcia, Kerman is an intelligent player who always knows which shots are open and where to swing.

Teammates see Kerman as someone to look up to, according to Nurse.

“She makes sure everyone on the court has positive energy,” Nurse said. “She is always cheering people on and encouraging them to work harder. Lizzy also leads by example, and when we see her working so hard, we [the team] push ourselves as well.”

Cian Concannon

Cian Concannon (junior), a co-captain and 2M on Occidental’s men’s water polo team, led the team with four goals and one assist in Occidental’s 21-5 victory over CalTech at home. Concannon has led the team in scoring several times this season, including a six-goal outing in a 24-14 win over the University of La Verne.

According to Concannon, getting an opportunity to train together before the season began has helped the team immensely.

“A couple of teammates and I lived in Los Angeles over the past year, and we worked out and held each other accountable. It allowed us to come into the season with great fitness and get straight to working on skills instead of building fitness during the beginning of the season,” Concannon said.

The time off also allowed the team to bond more and become closer friends and teammates, according to Concannon.

Occidental men’s and women’s water polo head coach Jack Stabenfeldt ’14 said Concannon fits into his role as co-captain well.

“Cian sets a great example with his mentality. He’s at every practice and is always pushing himself and those around him,” Stabenfeldt said. “Being able to have someone like Cian to follow is important, because it shows dedication to the program and to improving.”

The team is aiming to place top four at the district competition, so they qualify for regionals and win SCIACs, according to Concannon.

“This year we are all really good friends and enjoy playing together,” Concannon said. “We should be able to make a deep run if we keep pushing ourselves.”

Concannon’s photo above is courtesy of Sam Leigh.