June 23, 2024

 The CBU women’s volleyball team is unstoppable. With an overall score of 8-4 and a successful start to conference play, our women’s volleyball team doesn’t just play the game. They own it. 

They started building momentum in non-conference play at the Santa Clara and St. Thomas tournaments. They went on to clutch back-to-back wins against UCR and at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Big West tournaments. 

The WAC/Big West Tournament was the final tournament in non-conference play. 

“It is the last opportunity to check where our team is at,” said Laura Walewska, junior journalism major and middle blocker for the CBU women’s volleyball team. 

Hours of practice and training are put to the test. The team gets into the flow. Just like the first few weeks of school, this tournament allowed the team to get reacquainted with games before the big “finals” of conference games.

“We have been working on many new elements as a team last spring and summer, so this tourney is the last chance to check our skills. I would treat the last pre-season tournament as a ‘dress rehearsal’ before the WAC,” Walewska said.

The players settled into their routine and are focused on the conference play on the horizon.

“With this being the final weekend of the preseason, this tournament is significant for us coming off a 3-0 weekend at home and pushing forward into conference play beginning next weekend,“ said Logan Manley, kinesiology graduate student and middle blocker for the CBU women’s volleyball team. 

This semester was not their first rodeo. Some players have a couple of years under their belt and are familiar with the tournament.

“I have been to this tourney twice already. In my freshman year, it was hosted by UC Irvine, and the next year GCU organized it. This year, we are going to Fullerton,” Walewska said.

 Many players are returning from last year, excited to see what’s new and reunite with friends.

“This is the 3rd annual WAC Big West Tournament, so it is exciting to match up against Fullerton and UC Irvine again with a different crew than the past couple of years. There are a lot of friendships and deep ties among the teams in the tournament, so we are all looking forward to beating our opponents before heading into conference play,” Manley said.

Among reuniting with friends, there is also a competitive edge going into this tournament, as players have the opportunity to spar before the real fight begins in conference play.

“I am excited to compete with the same teams again because I want to see how we all look before this year’s season. Fullerton and Irvine are fun teams, so I cannot wait to compete with them,” said Walewska.

Many students enter the new school year with goals like getting straight A’s, being more social or finally finding a significant other. People achieve these goals by working toward them daily, studying, attending parties or talking to a crush. These small wins help them build the confidence to continue working towards those big dreams. The CBU Women’s Volleyball team used their small wins to propel them towards their final goals.

“Last weekend, our team did great by winning all three games we hosted. The highlight was, for sure, beating PAC-12 team Oregon State. I believe it gave the whole team more confidence and made us see that we can achieve big things if we keep working as hard as we did. My hope for this tournament is that our team will prove again that we can dominate any team we play,” said Walewska. 

Preseason tournaments are exhausting and demand a lot from the players. But there is no doubt about the value it adds to their craft and skill.

“Preseason play can be tiring because we play four-weekend tournaments in a row, including cross-country travel and school starting. Participating in these tournaments tests our team’s resilience and stamina so it’s a great way to prep for WAC conference travel and competition,” said Manley.

Challenges like preseason tournaments or tests in the first week of class force us to figure things out under pressure and go beyond ourselves. Through those challenges, we grow.

“Pre-season tournaments are fun and challenging at the same time,” Walewska said. “They are a great way to test yourself before conference games start. However, the tournament format usually has an intense game schedule, where teams must play back-to-back. I feel that these days contribute most to my personal growth because they force me to step out of my comfort zone. To perform on the highest level every time, I have to figure out how to do it even right after playing five sets.”

The challenges and growth leading up to the WAC Big West Tournament resulted in total domination. The CBU women’s volleyball team swept the floor with their opponents and came out as the undeniable victors of the preseason. Now they are primed for success in the WAC, already winning their first game of conference play. 

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