Volleyball Ready to Take on the Rest of the Season


Curtesy of Lucas Draper

The Oberlin College volleyball team competed against Kenyon College on September 23.

After a hiatus due to COVID-19, the volleyball team has returned to a North Coast Athletic Conference that is very different from 2019, winning and losing to new teams. The team won 3–1 in its first conference matchup with Kenyon College, marking the first time in six years that the Yeowomen have won their conference opener. It was also the first time since 2015 that the team beat Kenyon. 

College second-year Myriahlea DeHaro attributes her team’s success against Kenyon to the hard work that everyone put in to create a competitive team. 

“We were expecting to compete with Kenyon, but it really came down to how we would play that day,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “We collectively performed well and worked hard for the outcome that we got.”

Head Volleyball Coach and Assistant Athletics Director Erica Rau added that the student section provided moral support for the team and made it a fun environment. 

“We were [well prepared] and played our game,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “We had an awesome student section too which our team definitely fed off of. It was overall just a really fun night in Philips gym.” 

As a second-year, this is DeHaro’s first competitive season as last fall’s season was canceled due to COVID-19. DeHaro thinks that having a year without competition allowed the team to become closer, giving the team an edge over its competitors. 

“Last year, I had the opportunity to meet the majority of the team, but this semester is the first time we’ve all been together,” wrote DeHaro. “Having that year without competition allowed us to create the chemistry that has been a huge strength for us.” 

With the team back together, Rau described how it feels to finally be coaching the full team again. 

“It feels amazing!” she wrote. “I didn’t realize how much I missed it. It’s a hard feeling to explain though — it just feels like everything is right and the way it is supposed to be. I know this past year and a half has been really hard for everyone, but I don’t think any of us realized how much we actually missed competing until we were back playing again.”

Like DeHaro, this is College second-year Taylor Gwynne’s first competitive season with the full team, and has found that practices have become more fun with the full team. 

It’s invigorating!” she wrote in an email to the Review. “As a second-year this is my first year competing with the team, so I honestly don’t know anything different. Our team was never together last year with the three-semester plan, so just being together is a win in itself, getting to finally compete together is so much fun. We have a larger team this year too, which makes practices more fun since we’re able to scrimmage each other too.”

The volleyball team has also dealt with surprising losses this season, including its first regular NCAC season loss to Allegheny College since 2015. Allegheny also announced that this will be its final season in the NCAC as it is leaving to join the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. 

“We’re all sad to see Allegheny go but it makes the most sense for them as a school,” wrote Rau. “It is tough being an outlier school within the conference. The travel puts a lot of necessary stress on the athletes and finances.” 

Even with changes and new upsets, the team is confident that it will perform well in the remainder of the season. 

“We’ve definitely had some losses that I didn’t expect, but that doesn’t change our goals or our strategy for the rest of the season,” wrote Rau. “It did make us step back a little bit and reevaluate a few things, but that is never bad. A competitive season will always have its ups and downs — that’s what makes it competitive. Our conference has some of the best volleyball in Division III, and there is a lot of parity. Every conference match is a tough match.”

Gwynne believes that the new successes and losses have pushed the team to work even harder. 

“I think it’s changed our mindsets,” she wrote. “We know everyone is beatable, including us, so we have to go out and fight for every point until the end of each set and the end of the game. We’re a young team too, so we are working on figuring out the new kinks and how to play cohesively as a unit for the first year playing together.” 

DeHaro added that the losses have taught the team exactly what they need to work on. 

“With an even mix of wins and losses, we’ve nailed down what we do well and the areas that need improvement,” wrote DeHaro. “We are a slow-starting team and often have to come back from a huge deficit. As the season progresses and approaches an end, I’m hoping that we will be able to start strong and finish strong for each game.”

Rau is focusing on day-to-day practices and improvements. With a team that is mostly made up of first- and second-year players, Rau is looking forward to seeing the team become even stronger. 

“[We’re] continuing to focus on progress over outcome and focusing on doing the little things,” wrote Rau. “If we continue to improve each day at practice and each time we compete, I am happy. Those small percentage improvements compound to large percentage improvements over time. We’re still a young team starting mostly first-years and [second-years] who have never had a competitive collegiate season. We’ve still got a lot of work to do!”