Despite low numbers, volleyball team makes university proud

Despite having fewer players this year than previous years, the John Brown University volleyball team continues to win games this season.

As the team continues conference play with a record better than .500, they will wrap up their seven consecutive home games with their last home game of this homestand on Oct. 10. The team will then travel to Columbia, Missouri for a tournament, facing four different teams. Overall, the season has been successful season, but it also brought some challenges—specifically, injuries and a small roster. Head coach Ken Carver said this season they ran four or five different lineups, which is unusual for the team.

Freshman libero Jenna Lowery was named the Sooner Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 1. During three home games, she averaged 5.22 digs per set, which places her third among all SAC liberos. Her home games increased her season average to 4.92 digs per set. The team now has a 8-4 conference record.

“I’m really proud of our team. They’re just showing a lot of resiliency in the midst of that [adversity],” Carver said. “They have a really good learning and growth mindset no matter what is happening.” Carver said all the girls on the team have all hands on deck.

Junior Jess Meyer said part of their success has come from their focus in practice. “We really harp on focus in practice because it’s so easy to let things that happened earlier in the day or things you’re looking forward to, or things you have to do after practice let that become your focus,” Meyer said. “Coach really makes a point to leave everything outside of practice and focus on this.”

Another theme the team works towards is that of refusing to lose. Meyer said this means giving everything in practice and in a game, whether it’s a drill or the fifth set of a rivalry game. “In every moment, when you’re on the court, just refusing to lose and giving your 100 percent effort,” she said.

Through all their hard work, Meyer said the team focuses on representing Christ wherever they go. “We’ve done a really good job of intertwining the Lord with volleyball,” she said, “[and] knowing that volleyball isn’t our identity—our identity is in Christ.”

Carver said he has seen the team represent their faith well. “Wins are secondary; personal success are secondary,” he said. “We have an opportunity to use the court and the sport that we all love as a mission field and as a way to exemplify God in everything that we do.”

Lowery said the team incorporates faith differently than any other team she has ever played on. “It’s more relaxing to play when you’re thinking more about God,” Lowery said. “In the big picture, it’s about him and about what he does and [how] he brought you here. You’re just doing what you love and doing it for him.”

Carver said the support system of the community and the students has also been great this season. Meyer agreed: “It makes the energy of the gym inviting to play in. It’s really hard to play in a gym where you have to whisper to your teammates because it’s so quiet … we play better knowing that there’s people that support us and are cheering us on.”

The team’s next home game is 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, against Southwestern Assemblies of God University.