On March 4, the Lewis & Clark volleyball team finally began their season after it was pushed forward to spring last August. So far, the Pios have started out their season with three commanding wins. They swept Linfield in their first series, winning both matches three-to-one before continuing their winning streak on Mar. 12 with a shut-out against Willamette three-to-zero. That win against Willamette bumped LC’s rank — they, along with Pacific, are currently tied for first place in the Northwest Conference (NWC). The two teams are set to face off against Pacific on March 25 and 26 to determine who is in first place. Despite the constant challenges, the volleyball team has persevered doughtily and shown they will not take the opportunity to play for granted.
For outside hitter and middle blocker Izzy Willis ’24, this is her first time competing at the collegiate level.
“This definitely hasn’t been a normal freshman season but I am so grateful that we get to compete this Spring,” Willis said. “Due to our season being pushed back we had a much longer time to practice together before the competition and I am excited to see that pay-off in the games.”
Willis proved to be a prominent member of the team in the opening matches, combining for 23 kills in the opening matches against Linfield and another eight against Willamette.
In order to play, the team is continuing to abide by the COVID-19 protocols enacted by LC and the NWC; wearing masks, sanitizing the volleyballs and social distancing throughout practice and games.
Mark Pietrok, director of physical education & athletics, announced on March 9 that LC and the NWC have received an exemption from some of the COVID-19 state restrictions based on an application they submitted. The application included a safety and coronavirus testing plan to ensure the proper health of student athletes. This means, while isolated from group congregations, athletes competing outside will be able to do so without a mask.
However, despite the exemption, the volleyball team is the one program within LC’s athletic department that will still have to wear masks due to risk assessment reasons. Despite the fluidity of rules and regulations and the consistent ongoing challenges, the team is determined and excited to be able to play this season.
Isabel Artiaga ’22, outside hitter and defensive specialist, mentioned that there are volleyball programs not as fortunate as LC’s — which have been given the chance to play this season — and she is grateful for the opportunity they have.
“I’m excited to even get the chance to compete again. We did not know that we would get the chance to compete so we are utilizing it to our full advantage this Spring,” Artiaga said.
Because of the NWC’s decision to limit matches to conference play only, the Pioneers only have five games left on the court. On March 25, they are looking to continue the competitive play they have displayed thus far and take the lead for first place in the conference with a win against Pacific. Despite the on-going challenges and modifications COVID-19 has brought to the community, the LC volleyball team has stood in solidarity with one another to prevail and compete at their greatest potential.