Women’s volleyball wins four of seven in exhibition match

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, sports reporter

W inona State University’s women’s volleyball team had a successful weekend of scrimmages at their exhibition at Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday.
Out of the seven games, Winona State won four.
With a shortened season, this is just the second exhibition of the season out of five.
This comes nearly two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak on the team that caused a halt on all practices, affecting the team in the home exhibition last weekend.
Next Saturday (April 3) is yet another exhibition at home against Mankato again before nearing the end of the season at Concordia-St. Paul on April 11. The final game will be against Upper Iowa on April 17.
While it has been a hard season for the team, they persevere with big goals for next season as a team of hardworking individuals.
“For volleyball next fall season, I want to win the conference championship,” third-year middle blocker Madison Rizner said. “I also want to surpass the all-time blocking record at WSU.”
The current blocks record per game is 1.38 held by Kathy Lohff in 2012.
Rizner averaged .89 blocks per game in 2018 during her first year.
Now as a third year, it is safe to assume that that average has increased through her motivation and work ethic.
Of course, COVID has not been easy anyone, but it seems like the team’s girls are excited to see the progress made over quarantine when they return for a full season in the fall.
“Having all this time to practice and work on ourselves,” fourth-year middle, Megan Flom, said. “It’ll be super fun to see everyone grow personally and grow as a team and be successful.”
During the team’s last full season, the team was very young across the board, consisting of mainly first and second-year students.
A lot can change in a year and a half, both within players’ skills and as individually as people.
“I feel like our strength [this season] is having so much time to practice and work on ourselves,” Flom said. “And I think our team chemistry is really good.”
While COVID has had its challenges, Flom is definitely good at looking at the bright side of improving as a player and a person during it.
On the other hand, there are obviously downsides to COVID limitations too.
“I think our weakness is figuring out how to play other teams since we’ve only been playing against each other,” Flom said.
While scrimmages against your own team are helpful, it is a definite switch up playing against a different team that is also coached differently than your own.
It is also crucial to being able to improve as an athlete; not having that aspect has been hindering for the team.
Being a student athlete comes with a specific set of challenges as well, including balancing school, sports commitments and schedules and a social life.
Both Rizner and Flom mentioned how their schedules are still very busy, even during COVID.
For the volleyball team, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are practice days from 6-8:30 a.m. with classes following on each day.
This schedule is combined with practices on their own time, extracurriculars, educational field experience and studying.
Through all of their long days, they reign successful as a team when it comes to weekend games.
“We are a tight knit group of talented athletes who all want to win,” Rizner said.
This coming weekend there is a home exhibition against Mankato on Saturday. The game will be streamed live on the NSIC website.