Blues set to spike MIAA

Block party The Lady Blues prepare to defend their MIAA title this season, returning five starters from the 32-3 squad that went to the NCAA Tournament.

Mariauna Hernandez / Washburn Review

With their season opener around the corner, the Lady Blues volleyball team is ready for action.

The Blues begin this season as the No. 5 team in the country following up on an impressive season last year, which included an MIAA Championship and NCAA Tournament berth. They return 12 letterwinners and five starters, including five all-region hitters, and have been tabbed as the second best team in the MIAA by the coaches. They return many familiar faces, as well as a few new ones, such as assistant coach Taylor Pohlman.

While some may be feeling anxious about defending the MIAA title, others are up for the challenge. Senior outside hitter Courtney Wallman is determined not to give in to the hype. 

“You know it’s kind of like there’s always a target on our back, that’s what our coach always says, but we don’t like to focus on that,” said Wallman. “We take one team at a time, we play that team and we focus on them and then we move on to the next game. So if you don’t focus on being fifth in the nation, it’s a lot less pressure in your life.”

Given a previous record of 32-3, the Lady Blues have proven they have what it takes to be contenders.

It’s been said that behind every great team stands a phenomenal coach. 

Beginning his tenth year at Washburn University, head coach Chris Herron has turned the team into the second winningest MIAA program since his arrival in 2002. When asked what he credits his success to, Herron admits he isn’t the primary cause.

“What I really owe it to is the fact that our athletic director, Loren Ferre let me clean house,” said Herron, “meaning that there were players here that couldn’t help this program win at a level that we wanted to win. So by him allowing me to cut kids that weren’t going to help us be successful that was the first and probably the most important component of the whole thing.”

The Lady Blues kick off their season Sept. 2, traveling to Wichita Falls, Texas, for the Midwestern State Invitational against Texas A&M International.