Volleyball falls to Depauw in NCAC Tournament

The Allegheny volleyball team fell to DePauw in the first round of the NCAC tournament 3-0. The season concluding game was the first conference tournament appearance for the team since 2015.

Although DePauw took the game in three sets, the Gators were able to keep each set close, losing the first and third by just two points. All-NCAC Honorable Mention India McCruter, ’24, led the charge with 14 kills and six blocks, as well as recording a school record with a .667 hitting percentage in the match.

Despite the loss, head coach Kelly Barzak spoke highly of her team’s performance, fighting hard through three sets.

I think that our team played really well, we had a really high hitting percentage against DePauw and we fought hard and never gave up. They came into the game ready to win and I think our mentality was excellent.

— Kelly Barzak, Head Coach of Volleyball, Allegheny College

Kendall Crum, ’23, remarked on this loss as well as her team’s ability to fight through the adversity they were dealt.

“We were really upset because we were going to be missing a big part of our team,” Crum said. “But we went into the game with the intention that we were going to put it all behind us and play with intensity.”

While the Gators season comes to an end after this loss, the team remains proud of their historic year including the longest winning streak since 1995 at nine games. Furthermore, the team nearly tripled their win total from the past two regular seasons combined, indicating the positive direction Barzak and her team continue to move towards.

Leading the charge to help Barzak change the culture of the program are the seniors, Taylor Besch, ’22, Kate Christie, ’22, and Olivia D’Andrea, ’22, who began their Allegheny careers in 2018 and have remained major factors for the team throughout their time.

Barzak spoke highly of her seniors and their work ethic, especially over the summer in preparation for the season.

“I am so proud of this team, especially our seniors because they have really built a winning culture and I think that will last for years to come,” Barzak said. “They came into the season, in-shape and mentally prepared, and they were willing to do anything and everything they could possibly do to have a winning season.”

Christie echoed her coach and remarked on how good it felt to see this change in trajectory for the team come to fruition.

“We have also talked about the complete culture change from my freshman year to my senior year,” Christie said. “And I think you could physically see it this season, how we acted together and how we were able to come together and win games this season.”

While the team will certainly feel the losses of their seniors next year, a young roster will make it easier on Barzak to reload and continue where they left off this season. The team will go into 2022 with four out of six of their starters from this year. This veteran lineup, paired with the experience gained by some non-starters, has the team excited to compete next fall.

Additionally, the team looks forward to the school’s move to the Presidents’ Athletic Conference where they hope to make an immediate splash. The Gators played four of their future PAC rivals, including two games against Waynesburg and Westminster, as well as one a piece against Bethany and Chatham. The only PAC losses for the team this year both were dealt by PAC champion Westminster.

Crum spoke of her excitement as well as her expectations for the team’s first year in the PAC.

“Next year because we are going to a different conference and we have played a lot of those teams, I think we are going to have a really good season,” Crum said. “Even though we are a young team, and now that some of the freshmen and sophomores have that year under their belt, I honestly think we are going to be really good.”

As the season comes to an end, the team is proud of what they were able to accomplish this season, as well as the relationships that they have developed with each other. After not being able to compete last season due to COVID, the team was able to use the year away from competition effectively, working on individual aspects of their games as well as bonding with their teammates.

“We have worked so hard through COVID, so I came in as a senior and I didn’t want to go out without ever going to conferences,” Christie said.