SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va., – The five seniors on the 2019 Shepherd University volleyball team have proven to be a “Fab Five” force to be reckoned with again this season.
Even after starting the season 16-0, Seone Goode, Cam Hill, Jessica Karcz, Peyton Lindblad and Imani Major are still hungry for much more and aim to do their part to make Shepherd known as “a volleyball school.”
The Shepherd volleyball team reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history last year, but the players want to advance further this season.
When the five seniors first got to Shepherd, they felt the volleyball program was almost an afterthought among others on campus.
“Our freshman year, no one knew Shepherd volleyball was a thing,” Karcz said. “Now everybody sees us in the halls and is like, ‘Hey, good job. Keep it up,’ and other coaches are cheering us on, and other teams are cheering us on.”
The team’s success hasn’t gone unrecognized, either.
Last season, Lindblad was named to the first team all-Atlantic region by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. She was also named first team all-conference. Hill and Major were voted second team all-conference for the 2018 season.
“It’s definitely motivational season to season,” Lindblad said. “I think it’s also pressure in the sense that you have to continue to stay strong and know you were given the award for a reason. You have a target on your back because you’ve been recognized in this form.”
The target on this team’s back is arguably larger than ever.
“People used to know Shepherd as the football school, the baseball school, the softball school,” Karcz said. “I feel like people are really starting to recognize Shepherd for being a volleyball school too.”
Approaching midseason, the seniors say they feel the program has turned a corner and that this year’s team will be remembered for a long time.
“It’s incredible to know that our team right now is something that will be looked on forever,” Goode said. “It gives me goosebumps to think how much better the program is going to get from here.”
“Our freshman class right now is so incredibly talented,” Goode said. “The commits that are coming in next year and the next two years are also so insanely talented.”
Hill said she hopes the first-year players cherish every moment in their collegiate career.
“Don’t take any game or practice for granted,” Hill said. “Now that we’re almost in the middle of our season and it’s going to be coming to a close very soon, I know that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
“I was looking at photos today and there was a picture of a 5:30 [a.m.] lift where somebody’s laying on the floor in the locker room,” Lindblad said. “I would get up at 5:30 in the morning to lay on the floor in the locker room… just to have those memories one more time.”
After going 12-20 their freshman year, Lindblad said they knew it would take a lot of work to turn things around.
“We may have complained through the 5:30 [a.m.] workout, but damn did we do those workouts,” Lindblad said. “We did those practices and we did our summer workouts, and we built connections with each other that I think will be very hard to find anywhere else in life.”
The effort ultimately led to some memorable victories last year, West Liberty University being one of them.
“They were a team that we’d continuously go back and forth with every year,” Major said. “The first time we saw them last year they gave us a little bit of a beating,” Major said. “To be able to come back here and have the home crowd and come out with the win is something that’s going to stick with me for a long time.”