Volleyball team competes at Nationals
comes away with 4-1 record and much respect
Walla Walla College’s women’s volleyball team is ranked fifth in the nation after participating in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, held at Taylor University in Fort Wayne, Ind., in October.
“We’re the first Seventh-day Adventist school to make it to the post season in volleyball,” says Wolves volleyball coach Don Hepker.
Not only did the team make it to the tournament, but the players represented WWC in a way that made the other teams, coaches, and officials take notice and want to find out more.
Due to a miscommunication, the Wolves’ preference not to play Saturday games was not accommodated. When the team qualified for the championship round, set for Saturday afternoon, it dropped instead to the losers bracket because the team wouldn’t play on Sabbath. “No one had ever heard of us before, but they really respected that decision,” says Hepker. “We didn’t chose to lose; we chose to honor our Sabbath.”
Beyond that visible stand, many coaches, officials, and parents were also impressed by the team’s attitude, complimenting the players on their good behavior throughout the tournament. “Many people came up and asked if we were a religious group,” Hepker adds. “They said they could just tell.”
Team members got along well with many of the other teams, including a Mormon team from Virginia. “They came to cheer us on and we cheered them on.”
Ending the tournament with 4 wins and 1 loss, Hepker says, “Winning is wonderful, but that’s not where the success of this tournament was. We represented our school and our faith.”
The team also showed that it could compete with other top-ranking schools. Two Wolves, sophomore Kelsey Bowen and junior Danielle Braggs, were named USCAA All-Americans. Freshman Sam Seaman and sophomore Josselyn Peterson received All-American honorable mentions.
Many of the coaches are interested in holding the tournament at WWC next year. Officials have verbally agreed to that plan, but the details are still being ironed out, and a final decision won’t be made until this summer. If WWC does host the tournament, other Seventh-day Adventist schools will have a chance to compete as well.