LBSU Looks to the Future After A Rough Season

Women’s volleyball didn’t meet expectations, but young players got the chance to shine

By Jackie Gonzalez Staff Writer

A collage of the woman's volleyball team players and coach.
Graphic by Francisco Valladares/Athletics Editor

Consider this season of women’s volleyball a service error. With an overall record of 10-19 and 7-9 in the Big West, LBSU women’s volleyball missed the postseason by a longshot, but are optimistic about the potential of their young stars in the coming seasons.

Coming in more experienced for her second year, sophomore Hailey Harward was something special on the court. After transitioning from libero to outside hitter, Harward stepped into the role effortlessly and led her team toward the end of the season. She was unstoppable and dominated the court left and right, racking up 120 kills in the season with 30 aces, and leading the team with 394 digs.

"I learned a lot this season and I am sad it is over,” said Harward. “It's a great feeling to end with unity and togetherness. I look forward to next season and taking all the experiences from this year.”

Harward was also named to the First Team All-Big West. She managed to impress throughout the season as she covered the net, secured the defense and hammered the ball on offense. Needless to say, they’ll be looking to her for leadership in the coming campaigns.

Likewise, offensive hitter Megan Kruidhof was awarded for her top-notch performances as an honorable mention for the All-Big West teams. As a junior, Kruidhof led the squad in kills with 343, while adding 136 digs and 50 blocks to her resume.

Sophomore middle blocker YiZhi Xue also showed promise as she led the team with 106 blocks in the season and came second in kills with 199. Both Kruidhof and Xue look set to return along with Harward next season, which will only benefit LBSU as they look to improve with the trio at the helm.

Before they can usher in a new era, the team has to say goodbye to its senior members. Rachel Nieto and Alexis Patterson were greeted with a warm welcome by fans and teammates as they played their last game in the program. However, Alexis Patterson was subbed out before the match due to injury. She ended the season with 74 kills and 177 digs.

On the other hand, Nieto contributed 16 digs, five assists, and one service ace in her last match. She totaled 274 digs for the season, second most behind sophomore outside hitter Hailey Harward.

"It wasn't a good season in regards to records but I definitely made great friends with the girls,” said Nieto. “The chemistry and vibe the coaching staff provided was great. I'm super excited to see what happens to them in the future.”

Despite the team’s overall record this season, head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer feels that her team made positive strides forward as the year progressed. The growth from her younger players is encouraging, and the team is hoping that it only continues into next year.

"It feels great to end the season like this,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer. “We had some consistency in our line-up and as a team we progressed and made it a great night for the seniors. Once we stuck to the game plan, we were able to execute and finish strong."