Volleyball Works to Change Culture

Phoebe Hammer

Despite positive signs for the future, the women’s volleyball team left their home court disappointed again on Wednesday night. The Yeowomen fell to the Baldwin-Wallace College Yellow Jackets in three sets, 11–25, 8–25, 13–25.

Providing a glimpse into the program’s bright future, a pair of first-years, outside hitter Christine Antonsen and setter Jenna Bange, set the example for the other players, with Antonsen scoring nine kills and Bauge earning 13 assists and ten blocks.

“Christine and Jenna were really consistent tonight,” senior captain Liz Wong said. “I felt that those two really carried the team well and played as though losing was not an option.”

The loss dropped Oberlin’s record to 0–17 on the season, but with three weeks left and nearly three games a week in their upcoming schedule, there is have plenty of time to turn things around.

“The season isn’t over, and we still have a lot of fight left in us,” said Antonsen.

“Every point, every game, is a new opportunity,” added Erica Rau, who is in her first year as Head Coach. “We can give up, which would be easier, or we can be patient and keep fighting.”

Rau’s positive outlook has permeated the team, which used that motivation Wednesday night to mount a four-point rally near the end of the final set.

“Our coaches are so great at keeping our spirits up and motivating us during games,” said Antonsen. “They really believe in us and it is amazing to have [coaches] like that.”

Wong, one of only two seniors on the squad, has been through some tough times in her years of Oberlin volleyball and is enthusiastic about this new attitude shift.

“Seeing my teammates be excited to go to practice and not scared or dreading it for the first time [since I’ve been here] is worth a losing season,” Wong said, attributing this enthusiasm largely to the new coaching staff. “I think that Erica and [new Assistant Coach] Brian [Ambrose] were the best decision that Oberlin could have made. Erica is laying the foundation down for this program and she is starting from scratch, which means that she is making volleyball fun for us again.”

The optimism isn’t reserved for the players and coaches. Fans are beginning to notice this new culture, as was evident from the packed bleachers Wednesday night in Phillips. Even the coaches couldn’t help but feel the energy in the past few home games.

“It tells us that they haven’t given up, so we can’t give up either,” added Rau.

The home crowd will look to pack the gym to the rafters again for the upcoming “Cardio on the Court” game on Nov. 1, an event that will raise money for the American Heart Association with various games and raffle baskets. But first the Yeowomen must travel to DePauw University for a match on Saturday, Oct. 8.