Volleyball looks to carry their last season successes into 2019

The Eagles are losing five seniors but have hope in their athletic underclassmen.

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Volleyball looks to carry their last season successes into 2019

Photo by Benjamin Lee/ THE CHIMES

Photo by Benjamin Lee/ THE CHIMES

Photo by Benjamin Lee/ THE CHIMES

Andi Basista, Deputy Sports Editor

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(This story was originally published in print on Apr. 25, 2019).

Biola volleyball had a spectacular 2018 season going 30-6 overall and 19-3 in the PacWest conference. The Eagles were nearly undefeated at home (12-1) and had a monumental 12-game winning streak mid-season. The squad reached great levels of success due in part to its upperclassmen. However, the Eagles are losing five record-setting seniors who were all integral to this dominant season.

However, the team still looks to keep the same energy regardless of losing their many seniors. The excellence of this past season has set the bar extremely high as the Eagles begin games this fall.

Biola athletics are bringing in eight skilled freshman to compensate for the losses of their seniors. These young athletes have big shoes to fill in as they join a squad with a winning standard and high expectations.

“There are a lot of new girls coming in who are super athletic but young, so the underclassmen are really going to have to step up and lead,” said exiting senior setter Brinley Beresford. “It will be fun to see the new dynamic and watch some of the younger players step up in holding everyone to a high standard.”

The new lineup shows promise in being able to keep up the same energy from the previous season.

“Vanessa Garcia [sophomore] is a solid setter and runs quick plays very well. She is the one split time with this season,” Beresford said. “Abby Brewster [freshman] is most similar to me in that she is tall, strong and likes to play more aggressive. Marissa Price [freshman] is very quick and plays very solid defense.”

However the transition from powerful, aggressive players to quick and shorter athletes will not be easy.

“It is going to be an adjustment, a learning period and somewhat of a rebuilding mode to a degree,” said head coach Aaron Seltzer. “When you have that many new girls coming in and losing some critical seniors I am expecting us to be a little young and raw, and we will see how that mixes with a couple of good pieces we have coming back. I think it will be a challenge early in the season having so many new girls and the schedule that we have, because it is going to be a very difficult schedule to start out with.”

POSTSEASON MINDSETS

Athletics are now NCAA eligible in the postseason. It is on the minds of both the coaches and players to make it to the tournament.

“Everyone is very motivated especially this being our first season able to compete in the tournament,” said sophomore libero Sami Hover.

The big picture is that the team is eligible to compete, but the team can only accomplish such a task by finding a way to mesh as one.

“You play to your team’s strengths. We will have to figure out what that will be because every single year is different,” Seltzer said. “We have a lot of girls who are going to be young freshman so we will see how that goes and see what their strengths will be.”

EXCITED EAGLES

The Eagles are undoubtedly going to have a different look and approach on the court due to the style of play and athletic abilities of the new roster.

“I’m looking forward to a new look. For a while, Biola volleyball has been a lot of tall power hitters, and now it is all about quickness,” Hover said. “I think it will just be a different kind of team. We had a lot of power with those seniors, but now we have a lot of quickness and everyone is very hardworking so it will be good.”

Seltzer is looking forward to the potential of his team as they transition out strong seniors and bring in fresh talent.

“It happens all the time,” Seltzer said. “You lose a lot of really good girls, they graduate, they’ve done a phenomenal job for the program, you hope that they have passed on the information and knowledge and the impact which we know they have. Then it’s time for another generation to step up.”

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

Despite the excitement surrounding the upcoming season, it is an emotional time for those who are graduating and leaving Biola athletics.

“I will definitely miss my team family. We are all so close and supportive, it really will be like leaving my sisters,” Beresford said. “The coaching staff and fans as well created such a supportive environment and I will definitely miss that support system. I really hope that the team will maximize the amount of talent they will have next season. I also hope the team can continue to be a light on campus and in the community and keep living for Christ every day.”