By Paige Carswell
Kara Robeson knew that her volleyball career was ending when the timeout was called during the final points of Saturday’s game.
Cori Meyer, head coach, called the time out to tell the players to play hard and have fun from that point on. The women fell to McPherson College 25-19 in the final game of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament play-in match.
The women came out fighting and topped McPherson 25-18 in the first game.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘We’re going to be in and out. Three games. This is great,’” said Meyer.
During the second game, however, McPherson bounced back and kept things rolling—right over the Builder women. They won the next three games by no less than six points each.
Expectations were high for the squad at the beginning of the season, but the team ended with a 5-13 conference record and 8-20 overall record. Still, Meyer said she sees the improvement and is excited for the step the team took toward becoming a winning program.
“My biggest thing is just making progress each year,” said Meyer. “As long as there’s something to show that we’re improving this year then I’m doing my job and the girls are doing their job. Every team in the conference got better. That just made it a little bit of a challenge for us.”
However, for seniors Robeson, middle blocker, and Caitlin Smith, outside hitter, the loss marked the end of their playing careers.
“I think more than anything I’ll miss the relationships that I had with my teammates and coach,” Smith said. “That’s going to be the thing that’s hard. I’m leaving and not going to be around, so I’m going to miss all of them.”
Robeson transferred this year so she could enjoy playing her senior season. She had previously played at Barton County Community College and Missouri Southern State University, but said the choice to come to Southwestern was easy. She knew Meyer through a club volleyball team and had played high school volleyball with some of the women on the team.
Robeson led the conference in the number of kills per set and was sixth in the nation at the end of the season. She was selected to the All-Conference first team today. The honors were voted on by the 10 head coaches of the conference teams.
Kimberly Kellogg, sophomore libero, was named on the honorable mention list.
Although it isn’t how they wanted to end their careers, the seniors said they were proud of how they helped pave the way toward success in the future.
“Three to four years from now the team will be good,” said Robeson. “I’ll know I helped start that.”
Smith, who was with the team all four years, agreed.
“When I came in as a freshman, I saw the court a lot, and we didn’t really have a lot of promise my freshman year,” said Smith. “I feel like we have people who want to make the program better. And there wasn’t that when I came here, either.”
Meyer said she is looking forward to continuing to turn the program around. All it takes, she said, is the mentality of a winner.
“This is the hard part is building the program, getting the girls walking on the court every single game with the mentality that they’re going to win,” said Meyer. “That’s why it’s so hard to walk into Bethel, why it’s so hard to walk into Tabor or Friends: Because of their winning tradition and their mentality. It’s hard to get that mentality but once you get it, it’s there and it’s going to be there for a long time.”
Paige Carswell is a junior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.