AU volleyball continues a season for the books



AU volleyball players huddle up before one of their matches earlier in the season.


The Ashland University volleyball team is having a season to remember under first year head coach Kevin Foeman.

With a record of 20-5 and 11-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Eagles are having their best season since the 2013 when they made it to the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Quarterfinals.

The Eagles are playing with the fire and passion that it takes to win this many games and it pleases Foeman when he witnesses the energy coming from all sides of the floor.

“As a coach I feel confident when they’re excited and they’re playing well and they have that type of energy,” Foeman said. “They bring that positive energy and mindset every single time we step on the court.”

This energy and passion that the women have found this season starts with their ability to play so well together, which leads to the success that has highlighted their 2018 campaign.

In the 2018 season, the Eagles won their first seven games of the season to start 7-0 for the first time since 1999 (14-0). After losing two matches back to back in early September, they followed that with an eight game win streak that really started to give the Eagles confidence.

“I think we have found ways to win being so many different teams,” Foeman said. “I think we can win when our offense isn’t working, when our defense isn’t working, when we’re sloppy and I think we can win when we’re firing on all cylinders.”

The ability to win in so many different ways not only comes from the resilience of the team but the individual play of some standout athletes.

Athletes such as outside hitter Shelby Woycik and setter Zoey Peck have had standout seasons individually but are backed by the performances of Kaitlin Bean, Reanne Neal and Michaela Ping in their senior seasons.

“A lot of these girls are so worried about the team’s success that they don’t even know what they are doing from an individual standpoint,” Foeman said.

The Eagles have embraced a ‘team first’ mentality that has led to their collective success thus far.

To sweep teams and win matches three sets to none can be satisfying, which the Eagles have accomplished ten times already this season. However, the real test comes when you have to face adversity.

The Eagles have done just that in some cases. When losing one set in a match, the Eagles have found a way to bounce back nine times and still finish the match in four sets. The difficulty, Foeman says, comes when the Eagles lose two sets but have not able to complete a five set win.

“Going into that fifth set it’s as much about confidence as it is about physical abilities and endurance,” Foeman said. “It all goes into practice and how we deal with adversity and our challenges in practice.”

In their toughest and most prominent fifth set match of the season to date back on Oct. 6, the Eagles faced off against then No. 6 ranked Ferris State. The Eagles fought hard and had a chance to win in the fourth set but were not able to complete the upset as they lost in five sets (3-2).

More recently, this last weekend (Oct. 19-20) the Eagles went on the road and defeated Grand Valley State and Davenport each by a score of 3-0 to clinch a share of the GLIAC South title.

The Eagles then went on the road one last time in the regular season on Tuesday (Oct. 23) to play Salem and West Virginia Wesleyan to complete a nine game road stretch.

To finish their 2018 regular season, the AU volleyball squad returns to Kates Gymnasium for a four game home stand beginning Friday (Oct. 26) against Wisconsin Parkside. The next three games include Purdue Northwest (Oct. 27), Tiffin (Oct. 30) and Wayne State (Nov. 3).

“The fact that we end at home is nice and hopefully we can really get some excitement going on here,” Foeman said. “I think we have a chance to possibly get some good crowds and for our girls to feel kind of at home to finish off the season.”

Foeman said that now is the time for his team to catch that second wind in the long season so that they can start firing on all cylinders heading into postseason play.

“The biggest thing is we want to show up and every single match have a chance to win,” Foeman said. “If we give ourselves a chance to win every single match hopefully we can come away with some trophies.”