As a math major, I have a certain affinity for numbers. So when asked to reflect on this year’s volleyball season, I approached the topic in a very calculated way. First, let’s be clear when this season started. It did not start on the first game day or the first day of practice. This season was much longer in the making. It actually started on November 18, 2016. On that day, the 2016 volleyball team just lost in the Elite Eight at the NCAA National Tournament. From that moment, it has all been about returning to the tournament. I distinctly remember one of the seniors coming up to each individual and saying “this is your team now.” She was right. This is our team, and we had to refocus and work hard to return to tournament. That was 360 days ago. After approximately 10,200 touches on the volleyball, 17,900 times jumping, what is equivalent to playing 15.8 days straight of volleyball, we made our goal. On Nov. 4th, we won our tenth consecutive conference championship and qualified for the NCAA tournament.
This past Friday, Nov. 10th, we played Carnegie Mellon. According to the numbers, we should have been demolished. Carnegie Mellon is top ten ranked and previously beat us in three steps. However, I can proudly say the numbers were wrong and we fought hard with them for every point. After two close losses, we came back and won sets three and four. In the last set, Carnegie Mellon pulled ahead and won 15-7. A well fought match to bring a season of battles and wins to a close.
This season consisted of 20 wins and 13 losses and 2,658 points won. 270 workouts have been done by each player, that’s 108,000 reps! We have had milestones- the seniors have reached 100 wins, Coach Birtwistle has reached 700 career wins, Miranda Kauffman (Honorable Mention MAC Freedom) has reached over 1000 career digs, Morgan Kline has reached 2,000 career assists, Caroline Shelby (MAC Freedom Rookie of the year, First Team MAC Freedom, First Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region) had 452 kills, and Michelle Paulsen (First Team MAC Freedom, First Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region) has passed 425 career blocks.
This year has been full of triumphs and notable accomplishments. Out of all the numbers, there is really only one that matters: 146. 146 is what we call ‘our number’; it is the sum of our individual jersey numbers. This number transcends the individual accomplishments. Every game we write ‘EUVB 146’ on the coflex on our wrists to remind us: this game is so much more than an individual success. This is a long standing tradition done by EUVB since Coach Birtwistle has taken over. We play not only for each other and for the love of the game, but for the whole EUVB family– for everyone that has come before and everyone that is still to come.
Although this season has come to an end, EUVB 146 has not. EUVB 146 has made a deep impact on every player and has been impacted by every player to come before. In a very real way, EUVB 146 will live on. While we mourn the completion of the seniors’ careers, that is the only thing we mourn. The next season has already started, though it has really been 20 years of EUVB in the making.