Twist of Fate

Injuries douse a hot start; seniors miss NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

One bum ankle changed the path of a memorable season. Following a school-best 9-0 start—including two top 25 wins and a No. 17 national ranking—setter Kirsten Mead ’18 went down in September, missing 14 matches. Despite a first-team all-conference effort by outside hitter Nikki Hess ’17 (372 kills), the Broncos dropped seven straight to finish 16-14.

After two straight NCAA tournament appearances, seniors Madison Dutra ’17, Katrina Inch ’17, Mary Shepherd ’17, Sabrina Clayton ’17, and Hess missed the post-season for the first time. “To see that dream kind of go away was rough,” coach Jon Wallace said. “But we came in the gym every day and this group is committed to be on task to get better.” Hess finished her career third all-time at SCU in kills (1,518) and fifth in Kills/Set (3.48).

Oh, but there’s hope. Mead, who earned All-Conference honorable mention as well as Active Ankle Challenge MVP Jensen Cunningham ’18, and all-tourney honorees Hailey Lindberg ’19, Taylor Odom ’20, and Taylor Laugero ’20 all return next season. Callie Jones ’20, who had a 56-assist match against Portland, is back, too.

Setter Kirsten Mead ’18 had 542 assists this season, despite missing 14 matches. Photo by Don Jedlovec

And a dynamite recruiting class featuring Gatorade Oregon Volleyball Player of the Year Kathryn Decker should help, too.

post-image A 9-0 start had the Ruff Riders rocking early this season. View full image. Photo by Don Jedlovec
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