Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State Women’s Volleyball: Senior’s Profile

Winona State University’s women’s volleyball team is full of talented players who gave their best to make sure that the team qualified in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). However, two Warriors in particular are graduating after a successful season with the love and respect of the team.

Rylee Vaughn is a Defensive Specialist wearing jersey number 4. (Pronob Kumar)

RYLEE VAUGHN

Winona State knows that they have a reliable pair of hands always ready to receive the opponents’ attempts to score. These hands belong to none other than Rylee Vaughn, the defensive specialist of the team.

She began her career at Winona State in 2021. It was unfortunate that in her first year, due to COVID-19, the NSIC was canceled meaning that emerging athletes like her had to wait one long year to truly showcase their talent.

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Though, the environment of volleyball was certainly not new to Vaughn. Her two elder sisters had played in high school volleyball, which became an inspiration for her own passion of the sport.

She started her career with volleyball with a club when she was just ten years old. Her basic training was done at this club, which helped her to obtain some experience before her pursuit of the sport at Winona State. She stayed with the club till her junior year in high school.

In her high school days, she achieved all-state honors in volleyball twice and acted as the team captain for two seasons.

During the search for a college to continue her academic and athletic career, Winona State stood out to her significantly.

“My recruiting process of coming to Winona started after my sophomore year,” Vaughn said. “I went to a lot of camps here, coaches came to watch me play a lot and I looked at other schools, but I just knew I wanted to come here.”

Still, her time as a Warriors has been filled with both extreme highs and some significant lows.

Aside from her lack of play during the pandemic, it was only a couple of days before practice with her new team that she tore her meniscus.

With the end of COVID, things began to look up in her second season at Winona State. That year they qualified for the regional championship. This season Rylee was not the face of the team on the court, but still expressed herself as a promising and reliable Warrior.

Vaughn always had support from her family when playing volleyball. Like her sisters, her parents had confidence that she would certainly shine as a player.

“My whole family supported me throughout like my whole journey,” she said. “My parents, my grandparents always traveled to watch my games.”

Aside from being an athlete, Vaughn maintained good academic records as well. She mentioned that she always assures her homework is done on time, so she never feels the pressures of practice. She even uses her time travelling from match to match to get some of her work done.

She is a lady with strong dedication. Her contributions to the team are unforgettable and will certainly leave Winona State with her mark on both the team and Warrior volleyball fans.

Taylor Pagel plays as a middle blocker and wears jersey number 22. (Pronob Kumar)

TAYLOR PAGEL

A large part of the Warrior’s right-side wall is Taylor Pagel, and outstanding athlete and a brilliant student who will be leaving the team for her next journey as well.

Pagel began playing volleyball in the fifth grade and then joined club volleyball in the seventh grade. Her inspiration to play the sport was the competitiveness from volleyball which pushed her to be a better player.

Her high school volleyball career was certainly impressive, as she was a team leader and received all-conference honors in the last of her three years.

Pagel’s journey with Winona State started with a tour where she found the players and the coaches to be extremely welcoming and supportive. Moreover, she found the environment to be the best for her academics.

Throughout her time on campus, she has found that the team has become much like a second family. Together, she knows she always has a group that has her back. She still remembers the moments she had with the team such as the bus rides, team meals, meetings, films and trips.

Pagel also has consistent support from her family.

“My family has always encouraged and supported me in anything I’ve done,” she said. They are my biggest fans in the stands.”

Her first year with Winona State was also a slow start because of COVID. Still, she managed to reveal her strength in 2022 by gaining 197 kills and 18 aces. With that, she ranked sixteenth in the NSIC with 88 blocks and 71 block assists.

She also manages to be a great student while simultaneously being a good player. She gives most of the credit for her academic success to her coaches who pushed her to her limits in practice and always encouraged education as a priority.

Soon after graduation, she will be getting married. Her plans for volleyball in the future are not clear now but she intends to always be there to cheer for her team.

Pagel leaves with a special message to future Warriors.

“They should soak up every moment they have playing the sport they love,” she said. “Not every day is easy or fun, but it is a great opportunity that cannot be taken for granted.”

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About the Contributor
Pronob Kumar, Sports Reporter

Pronob Kumar (he/him/his) is a sports reporter for The Winonan and started in the Fall of 2022. He is now a photographer as well. Kumar is currently a second-semester Sophomore at Winona State University majoring in Applied Computer Science and minoring in Mathematics and Physics.

In addition to working for The Winonan, Kumar is also a student employee on the IT Infrastructure team at Winona State University. He is also a tutor at the Library and a teaching assistant at the CS department. He is also the International Orientation Leader at the International Office and Orientation leader for WSU.

Outside of school, Kumar loves to play Chess. He was an under-18 national team chess player in his country. He also likes to cook food and go hiking with his friends. He enjoys drawing pictures and likes to tour different places.

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