Written by Madison Meeks.
Leading up to nationals, the Lady Bisons volleyball team was ranked number one in the Great American Conference and sixth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). The Lady Bisons traveled to Dallas last week to compete at nationals and won third place at the AVCA National Tournament. The team ranked number nine in the American Volleyball Association Division II poll.
“My teammates have definitely been my rock throughout this entire season,” sophomore middle blocker Kelli McKinnon said. “I am so thankful that I get to play next to them and go through this whole experience with them. They make everything so worth it, every win, every loss, every practice, and without all of us showing up for each other each day, we would not be where we are today.”
Through the year of unknowns, the team is most thankful for the opportunity to play the sport they love.
“This was an opportunity that came out of nowhere and something that has really been a blessing,” sophomore team manager Avery Voss said. “Being with the team each day has been so much fun, and seeing them work hard in practice and do so well this season makes it all worth it.”
Although the 2021 season has ended, plans for next season are already in play.
“I am thankful we got to compete, and in the end, have fans to support us,” junior outside hitter Amber Robin said. “We didn’t finish the conference how we wanted at second place. We fought hard, and we got better with every game that we played. We are working hard, and we are ready to come back even stronger next season.”
The team placed third at nationals and finished the season with a 15-3 record and a 10-0 conference record. The Lady Bison’s volleyball overall season statistics are as follows: 626 kills, 88 aces, 898 digs, 82 blocks, 12 solo blocks and 571 sets.
The senior leaders of the volleyball team this season are Emily Smith and Katherine Cowart. Smith played middle blocker, leaving her legacy for Harding rankings as 10th in blocks per set (0.75). In her Harding volleyball career, Smith accomplished 486 kills, .244 hitting percent calculated, 30 assists, eight aces, 64 digs and 200 blocks. Cowart played defensive specialist, ranking Harding eighth in aces and sets (0.28) and 10th in digs and sets (3.31) for Lady Bisons volleyball. Cowart’s Harding volleyball career accomplished nine kills, 121 assists, 84 aces and 990 digs.
“Our season has been so much fun,” sophomore defensive specialist Emma Winiger said. “We have grown closer together and worked so hard this season to push ourselves and get better. I love our seniors so much, and it has been amazing to finish this last round with them.”