A sixth place finish for the women’s volleyball team

Sophomore outside hitter Karlee Troeh (#7) sends a hard-hitting kill toward the defense of Grossmont College on Nov. 7 where the Knights lost 3-0. Photo credit: Troy Orem

Sophomore outside hitter Karlee Troeh (#7) sends a hard-hitting kill toward the defense of Grossmont College on Nov. 7 where the Knights lost 3-0. Photo credit: Troy Orem

David Pradel, Sports Editor

“It was tough — injuries really screwed us.”

In seven words, sophomore outside hitter Lisette Kelly summed up the second half of the women’s volleyball season that ended in a four-game losing streak and a sixth-place finish with an overall record of 11-11 and a conference record of 8-8 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.

“We started off really strong and a lot of us had high hopes but we tried our hardest and gave it our all in the last couple of games; we did what we could and I don’t have any regrets and I don’t think any of the other sophomores do — it was just the luck of the draw that we lost,” Kelly added.

The Knights began the season with their best start since 2009 with a 7-3 overall record and a conference record of 4-0 and were in a battle for second place in the conference. But things quickly went downhill as the team lost two of their starters, which hurt their momentum in earning a playoff spot in the last several matches of the season.

By losing freshman middle-blocker Shannon Stevens and setter Tristan Self due to injuries, the team’s rotation was thrown off on the court.

Kelly mentioned that it is really hard to play without a setter but is still proud of how the Knights hung in during matches and didn’t give up.

Although the team struggled toward the end of the season, the team still had several hard-earned victories throughout, and Head Coach Kevin Pratte expressed that he is proud of the team and how they continued to push through.

“I feel we have a lot to be proud of this season — most importantly we have scholar athletes on this team. Most of our players have over a 3.5 grade point average and we actively volunteer in our wonderful community. We got off to our best start in program history by earning second place at the San Diego City College Tournament. Also, we earned our first victory against Mesa College in over 20 years,” Pratte said.

It was Pratte’s first year as head coach for the women’s volleyball program, and he discussed how the sophomores led the team.

“I really enjoyed working with the sophomore class. Since this was my first year with the program, I was very pleased how the sophomores embraced me as a coach. They worked extremely hard, bought into the program and were excellent role models for our freshmen. When we were faced with adversity during the season, Karlee (Troeh), Lisette and Michaela (Keller) showed great leadership by inspiring their teammates to play at their highest levels,” Pratte said.

Now that the season has finished, the team will be looking to come back next season stronger and will be focused on continuing their training in the spring.

Freshman Rio Jimenez expressed what she thinks is the key for a successful season next year.

“I think next season — probably what we are going to look for most is just having better communication with each other and with the coaches and starting off stronger in the beginning of the season before we start even playing games,” Jimenez said.

“The (Pacific Coast Athletic Conference) is turning into one of the top conferences in the state for women’s volleyball. Three (PCAC) teams made playoffs and Grossmont has a great opportunity to win the state title. It is imperative that our team hits the beach hard for an exciting spring beach volleyball season,” Pratte said. “Playing beach volleyball is a great opportunity for our players to work on their ball control and improve their vertical jumping ability. Our players need to stay focused in the spring to prepare for a successful 2015 season.”