Oklahoma Christian University volleyball is off to a solid start after going 1-1 in Lone Star Conference play last week.
The Eagles have already competed in three tournaments this semester, leading to a 7-6 record overall. Sophomore setter Sophie Mae Smith commented on some of the team’s goals.
“We want to be more consistent than last year,” Smith said. “We want to play for the conference this year.”
Smith also spoke on determination and the willingness to compete despite their weaknesses.
“We’re not as big as other teams in the Lone Star Conference,” Smith said. “Instead, we bring a kind of scrappy grit, playing strong defense and working with what we got.”
Some big names to watch out for this season are Brylie Berryman, Lauren McClure and Rainey Aven according to Smith. Berryman is a defensive specialist, while McClure and Aven are setters for the team.
“Brylie Berryman is one of the hardest workers on the team, and she gives it her all every single time,” Smith said. “She’s been a great leader, despite her school work as a biology student, and she’s not afraid to call the team out when needed. She can create the dynamic shift we need at times. McClure and Aven have also been working hard no matter what situation they’re in.”
Hard work has paid off for the Eagles, as they beat their conference rival, Eastern New Mexico, 3-0 by scores of 25-23, 25-19 and 25-21. Senior middle hitter Megan Rek spoke about the home opener victory.
“It’s been a rough week for us,” Rek said. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs, so coming together and playing well was big for us.”
One setback the team has faced has been the change in coaching staff midway through the season. Jason Skoch has been removed, and former assistant coach Asa Freeman has stepped into the role of head coach for the remainder of the 2023 season.
“I try to stay my own person whenever I’m coaching,” Freeman said. “The only difference now that I’m the head coach is that I have to make the bigger decisions. There are definitely some tough calls to make; it’s not always easy. But overall, my role hasn’t changed that much.”
Freeman was impressed with the performance of the team’s middles, Megan Rek and Cameron McGough.
“Our middles played very well tonight,” Freeman said after the win over Eastern New Mexico. “I think they were both hitting around .500, and if you’re scoring half the time you touch the ball, that is pretty dang good.”
Freeman shared his excitement about the team and their chemistry.
“We played a little bit more synergistically tonight, fighting for each other and keeping the pressure on our opponents serving wise,” Freeman said. “Coming together despite some injuries over the last few days has been huge in building our confidence. We’re hoping to start the surge now.”
Rek also spoke on how the team is working together despite the change in leadership.
“It was a big shock to everyone. But honestly, we’re coming together and not letting the change bring us down,” Rek said. “We’re not letting it affect us as a team and we’re just going to keep pushing this season, working as hard as we can.”
Smith gave a way for the campus to assist the volleyball team this season.
“We don’t have a lot of home games this season, so students coming out and showing up for the team would be big,” Smith said. “The team appreciates any and all support. A large student section is really the dream.”
You can watch the Eagles battle their conference rival University of Arkansas Fort Smith today at 6:00 p.m. in The Nest.