Women’s Volleyball to Ready for Marymount and Virginia Wesleyan

Natalie Lavelle. Photo retrieved from https://www.lynchburgsports.com/sports/wvball/2018-19/bios/lavelle_natalie_z4go?view=bio.

William Masseli ~ Sports Columnist

     Interim Head Coach Hannah Givens and her women volleyball players have remained motivated and focused so they can serve up defeat in the season opener against Marymount University on Feb. 27, 2021. 

     Givens said, “So far we have not played any matches yet, but we are looking forward to our first match coming up on the 27th against Marymount. Practices have been great, and the girls are working hard. We have plenty of goals this season, and we are looking forward to competing for an ODAC.” 

     Natalie Lavelle, a senior on the team said, “Our season has not yet officially begun. However, the atmosphere in the gym during practice is filled with intensity and an intentional mindset. Our team’s expectations this year are to continue to better our play and achieve our goal of winning the ODAC.” 

     She continued, “I am fully confident that we have the skills and drive to win the 2021 ODAC Championship. Unfortunately, due to COVID the NCAA tournament has been canceled this year, but Coach Givens and the team are working hard to build a program that will one day face off in the NCAA tournament.” 

    Alexis Horner, a freshman, said, “Over break, the team stayed fit thanks to great training programing from our strength coach, Coach Smith. We had team meetings over Google Meet, and we each individually did our best to get some volleyball reps in and stay healthy.” 

     Horner continued, “As teammates, we compete with each other in the best way. We challenge each other to work hard and have good volleyball I.Q. I think this definitely shows in our practices and I am looking forward to us bringing that same energy when we play other teams soon. While it was a long break, I believe everyone came back in January better than ever and ready to take on the ODAC.”

     Marymount University is not the team University of Lynchburg women volleyball players want to beat the most though. Lavelle said, “I am looking forward to playing Virginia Wesleyan University. This game is important to not only me but the whole team! They are the reigning ODAC Champions from the 2019 season. This is a game I look forward to every year but even more so this season. They are a hardworking team, and we have unfinished business with them. Securing a win against this team will show the other teams in the ODAC that we are here to not only compete but to win a championship. This game is important to the freshmen because it will set the standard for their remaining years at the University of Lynchburg.”  

     Lavelle noted that  beating teams like Marymount and Virginia Wesleyan University is important to the freshman class. She said, “My advice to the freshmen on the team is to stick to the culture that we have created as a team and continue working hard to elevate your play. I believe that they should cherish every moment that they get to be a part of this amazing program whether it be 6 a.m. practices or a 6 p.m. lift.” 

     Lavelle said, “Nothing is guaranteed because no matter how slim the odds are, a global pandemic may just come around your senior year and almost take your season away. Someday it will click that you do not have very many practices or lifts left with your teammates and you will want to say that you gave it everything you had. My favorite memory while playing at the University of Lynchburg was our weekend tournament in Tennessee. I remember my stomach hurting during the 6-hour bus ride because of how hard I was laughing the whole way. I did not think it was possible to get any closer with my teammates that weekend, but I did. I had an all-around great time there and we played very well.”

     Horner is taking the advice that seniors like Lavelle are giving her, and Horner seems to admire Lavelle’s example. Horner said, “The senior class leads by example. They work hard in lift and practice, offer encouragement and constructive feedback on the court, and are always available to answer my questions and help with any concerns I have, volleyball or otherwise. They also expect the same energy and effort from us freshman and all the other classes which I think is important in strengthening the team.” 

     Despite having a shortened season, Coach Givens and her volleyball players are enthusiastic about the upcoming season. Givens said, “We are just so thankful that we are able to have a season this spring. It will be different, but we have been working hard and I am excited to see the hard work pay off for these girls. Make sure to watch a match or two this spring!”

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