Young core gives volleyball a bright future
The Eagles have a lot to look forward to thanks to some fantastic freshmen. | Thecla Li/THE CHIMES
Freshman middle blocker Bekah Roth has become a key part of Biola’s volleyball team this season, even though she almost opted out of playing at all.
“At the beginning of the season, there were two senior middles and a junior middle and I was like, I’m never going to set foot on the court with so much talent ahead of me,” Roth said.
Head coach Aaron Seltzer saw the same thing and kept an eye towards Roth’s future potential.
“We talked to [Roth] initially about potentially just redshirting her because she’s going to be really good in the future,” Seltzer said. “But she’s had to go right away and she’s done a really great job.”
Roth’s chance came thanks to some key injuries, most notably one to senior middle blocker Ally Forsberg in the team’s first game of the season. Since then, Roth has played in every single match, filling out Seltzer’s rotation alongside junior middle blocker Sierra Bauder and posting a respectable .278 hitting percentage through Saturday’s loss against Point Loma. She has responded especially well in big games, recording nine kills on just 16 total attempts at Azusa Pacific on Sept. 22.
“Coach was like, ‘Welp, we kind of need you now’ and it was like, ‘Oh man, those are some big shoes to fill,’” Roth said. “I’m just a little freshman coming in. It’s kind of cool though, it’s been a great experience.”
Unlike Roth, freshman libero Sami Hover has been lucky enough to go through her first collegiate season alongside her senior counterpart on the court. While Seltzer referred to senior libero Tess Van Grouw as the “heart and soul” of the Eagles, he was quick to praise the strides that Hover has made towards taking over for the legendary defensive specialist, who graduates this semester.
“[Hover has] come in with a great heart,” Seltzer said. “She just soaks it in. She’ll ask a question, she’ll listen, and she goes and applies it. She has a great understanding of her role.”
Redshirt freshman outside hitter Savannah Hilde did sit out her first year at Biola and seemed set to ease into a backup role behind sophomore outside hitters Christina Denboer and Brooke Watts. However, with both Denboer and Watts nursing injuries, Seltzer inserted Hilde into the starting lineup and she responded by becoming a versatile workhorse, averaging 35 total attempts and over eight digs per game.
“[Last year] was a good maturing year for her. She got a lot stronger, a lot smarter,” Seltzer said. “All of that has really contributed to her playing well. Her ability to play the back row is really, really needed for us… Christina was playing that role the first weekend, and as soon as she goes down, we knew that Savannah [was up next]. It was an easy decision to make.”
Hilde shared she just feels grateful for any chance she gets to play.
“It’s such a feeling to know that you’re able to play and to go on the court, whether that means for one point or several,” Hilde said. “Just being able to contribute to the team finally as a whole instead of just one little part, that makes my day.”