Despite their struggles throughout the season, the Rams volleyball team battled through many obstacles. Although the season didn’t turn out the way they had hoped, their players remained resilient, always looking to improve week in and week out.
In the concluding week of the 2012 season, the Rams were scheduled to face conference rivals Davis & Elkins and Alderson-Broaddus. Seniors Sara Michael, Kasey Mercier, and Lauren Gardner were honored on Friday night as part of Senior Night, the final home game of the regular season.
After tallying up three consecutive wins, the Rams looked to continue their streak against Davis & Elkins. Wanting to give the seniors on the team one final home victory, the team looked to play their very best. They did just that, completing a 3-0 sweep of the Senators (25-17, 25-15, and 25-13).
Seniors Mercier, Michael, and Gardner all had exceptional performances in their final home match. Mercier had 12 kills with 16 digs, and Michael had 33 assists with 11 digs. Gardner added seven digs. In addition, Melani Lewis contributed nine kills for the Rams, coupled with a .562 attack percentage.
This match improved the Rams’ overall record to 10-16, with a 6-7 record in conference play. This match gave the Rams their fourth consecutive win. They looked to make it five in a row in the match against Alderson-Broaddus on Nov. 10.
With postseason aspirations in their sights, the Rams dominated their WVIAC rival, winning the match against the Battlers decisively, 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, and 27-25).
Mercier, Michael, and Gardner again showed excellent performances in helping their team earn the victory. Mercier recorded 12 kills and 14 digs along with three aces while Michael provided 33 assists and eight digs. Gardner added 13 digs. Melani Lewis also had eight kills and four digs for the Rams. This match put the Rams at 11-16 overall on the season and pulled them to .500 in conference play at 7-7.
After being down in the win column throughout much of the season, the Rams were able to battle their way back with hard work and perseverance, attitudes that were echoed in interviews with various players throughout the year.
Their nature as a team has come due to physical and mental toughness, especially in the last couple of weeks. When asked what the team’s strengths have been throughout the season, head coach Sarah Smith said, “Our physicality is our biggest strength as a team. We are stronger, we jump higher, and have more explosive athletes than the majority of our competition. When we play as one, we can compete with the best in the region.”
Smith feels that the team is peaking at the right time as well. “Right now we are peaking and playing some of our best volleyball. It took us a little longer than any of us thought it would in order to reach this point, but we are happy to be peaking at playoff time. Our team is starting to believe with every ounce that they are unstoppable when they play as one unit,” she said.
The Rams look to carry their five-game win streak momentum into the WVIAC Conference tournament, which begins on Nov. 12.