Nearly time for NCAA
Biola volleyball has three new recruits, coaching changes and young players to usher in a new season. | Jason Lin/THE CHIMES [file]
Every Biola team has a different journey ahead of them as the Eagles transition into their first year of membership in the NCAA Division II starting Fall 2017. The volleyball team’s journey begins with an exceptionally young team, a slightly changed coaching staff and three new faces.
A new journey
The Eagles had 10 new members on the team for the 2016 season after losing seven seniors the previous year. With such a huge batch of new players, the chemistry of a team may not be there right away.
However, the Eagles have had a whole season to work together and figure out each other's strengths and weaknesses, and the team is confident it will be an advantage to them heading into the high intensity of NCAA Div II.
“I think it will be better for us, in the sense of, all of us are starting new together so we’re on this journey,” said sophomore outside hitter Sabrina Winslow. “And I think because we have so many girls, it’s easier to have a better community and relationship as a team.”
Winslow was one of three members of the team who redshirted last year, and she is greatly looking forward to finally being on the court with her teammates in competition.
“This year was definitely a learning experience, being on the bench and having that role. Being a cheerleader and a support system instead of the one on the court,” Winslow said. “It definitely taught me a lot and I’m definitely ready to get back out there.”
Winslow will join a team who will have an interesting setup this next season, as they only have one setter on their roster, sophomore Brinley Beresford. This requires the team to run a system called the 5-1, meaning they have five attackers on the court with one setter. This setup favors taller setters, like the 6 foot 1 inch Beresford, who can block and attack in the front row. The downside is that when Beresford is in the front row, Biola only has two main hitters, rather than three.
excited for that challenge.
While the setter position may be sparsely occupied, the Eagles are adding two new middle blockers and a defensive specialist to boost their depth.
Sara Docktor and Bekah Roth will be coming into Biola as freshmen, hailing from Leilehua High School in Hawaii and Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif., respectively. Docktor received all-league first team honors in her final two years at Leilehua, while Roth helped her team to three consecutive California Interscholastic Federation Central Coast Championships from 2014-2016.
Biola will boost their already incredibly strong back row defense with the addition of Sami Hover from Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Phoenix. She will join the talents of current freshmen defensive specialists Anna Houser and Kaitlin O’Brien, as well as the prowess of junior libero and captain Tess Van Grouw, who is excited for the opportunity of elevated play in the NCAA.
“I think the more consistent competition in every game [is what I’m excited for],” Van Grouw said. “There won't be a team we play that won't be hard work and I'm excited for that challenge.”
Biola’s bench will also look a little different, as it will be missing the face of Abbie Wright, who accepted the head coaching position at Seattle Pacific University after four years as an assistant under head coach Aaron Seltzer. Seltzer enters his 16th year as head coach for the Eagles, and will be looking to continue his success in the competitive environment that is the NCAA.