Women’s Volleyball | Photo by Arden Reimer | The Wright State Guardian
Wright State University volleyball is headed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament for the second time in three seasons after sweeping the Northern Kentucky Norse 3-0 in the conference tournament.
The ‘22 season
This season has been a standout performance for the whole Raider squad, which went undefeated in conference play (20-0) and won 23 straight games on the road to a Horizon League title.
For first year head coach Travers Green, the title is proof that the former Mississippi State associate head coach deserves to run the program.
“It’s been such a privilege to have this opportunity, but also to have things go the way that they did. A lot of things had to go right, from us being welcomed to the pieces we had, it’s incredible,” Green said.
23 in a row
Winning a conference championship is one thing to give a momentum boost to a roster, but the Raiders pushed this season to its limits, sweeping the conference championship 3-0 for 23 straight wins.
“What we did this season is unreal. To go undefeated the whole time, and everybody’s on board, and everybody put in the work every single day,” Taylor Bransfield, a middle blocker for WSU, said. “It just shows all our hard work and what we did to get here. It’s incredible.”
The Raider offense dominated opposing defenses in the tournament through the number of attacking threats. Sam Ott paced the Raiders with 13 kills and five service aces, but Megan Alders, Callie Martin, Aaliyah Byers and Bransfield all stepped up on championship day.
“Since we’re so spread out and balanced across the board, anybody can do anything and all of our hitters can put the ball away,” Bransfield said. “It helps so much because their block doesn’t know which way to go.”
While NKU’s block was solid throughout the match, WSU’s hitters were able to spread out and force the defense to keep moving, allowing the Raiders to punch through.
“We built our system throughout the year in how we attack certain things. We have teams that are similar to NKU in terms of their schemes, but we just have really talented players,” Green said. “We try to keep things simple so they can just be able to play and be free.”
Why we celebrate
For WSU’s players, this season’s championship brings even more joy than the previous victory because the team can truly celebrate it. Tournament Most Valuable Player, WSU’s Jenna Story, won with the Raiders two seasons ago, but COVID-19 restrictions stopped fans from attending. Now, Story can celebrate.
“Yeah, the energy was just crazy, and we haven’t experienced that here yet,” Story said. “It’s amazing that we can have other people to celebrate with because they’ve all helped us get where we are today, and we couldn’t be here without them.”
Bransfield, who was injured during the championship game the last time the Raiders won, had to go through months of surgery and recovery to play again. Now, Bransfield has the chance to celebrate the win and play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
Bransfield stepped up for the Raiders this year after recovery, hitting 320 kills in the 2022 season, just short of a team high 322.
“We all have each other’s back, and it just is what makes the team so great,” Bransfield said. “We are so prepared every day, and everyone believes and trusts that we can do it.”
The Raider team now waits for the announcement of its first-round opponent one week after the victory, as the NCAA Volleyball Selection show airs Sunday, Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m.