Crimson Hawks reflect on memories from the court

As the season comes to an end, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s volleyball team recognizes the memories, emotional moments and, of course, the seniors.

Katie Miller (freshman, anthropology) said she remembers how much fun the team had in the preseason.

“We got to spend all our waking moments together,” Miller said. “All of the upperclassmen taught the freshman all the ropes of being a college student in that first week here, and it was invaluable, the time we got to spend together.”

The memory that sums up IUP volleyball and Heather Urbaniak’s (freshman, nursing) experience with the team was with the ROTC for a 5 a.m. workout. The team was lifting heavy water jugs over their heads repeatedly.

“I was struggling and wasn’t sure if I could continue,” Urbaniak said, “but looking around and seeing all of the girls pushing themselves and cheering each other on made me feel like I could do a hundred more reps.”

Joie Hrapla (junior, marketing and fashion merchandising) said one of the biggest pregame rituals is music in the locker room prior to games. She also said that traveling for road games can be fun, but also stressful.

“Maintaining grades is a No. 1 priority of any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athlete,” Hrapla said. “So as a team, we try to enjoy ourselves on the road while balancing study time, also.”

The IUP women’s volleyball team has three seniors this year.

“I have learned a lot from the seniors and will only learn more from the upperclassmen throughout my years here as a student, a teammate and an athlete,” Alexis Anderson (freshman, marketing) said.

Brooke Bailey (senior, exercise science) is a 5-foot-10 outside hitter for the Crimson Hawks. In her freshman year, she had 92 kills, 19 blocking assists and 20 service aces. She was fourth on the team in digs for the season with 209. In 2012, Bailey did not play due to an injury. Last season, she appeared in seven sets in which she had two digs, one assist and one service ace.

Elizabeth Sova (senior, hospitality management) is a 6-foot-1 middle hitter from Myerstown. In 2011, Sova was fourth on the team in kills with a total of 184. She was also team leader in blocks with 94. She was fourth on the team in kills (113) and blocks (36) her sophomore year. Sova finished the season with 10 assists, 16 service aces and 36 digs. With new coaching staff in 2013, Sova was named first team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division and fourth in the PSAC with kills. She was team leader in kills (324) and total blocks (98). Sova currently holds five IUP career records and three season records.

Lauren Hester (redshirt junior, speech-language pathology and audiology) is a 5-foot-6 outside hitter from State College. During her freshman year, Hester was second on the team in kills (224) and third in digs (217). She also had 21 block assists and 35 service aces. In 2012, Hester lead the team in service aces (49). She contributed 145 digs and 25 blocks throughout the season. At the beginning of preseason her junior year, Hester was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary emboli, which is when blood clots the lungs. This prevented her from practicing and playing. Hester currently holds four IUP season records and two career records.

“What I will miss most is the presence and uniqueness they bring to the team,” Urbaniak said. “I have only known our three seniors for a short time, but I can honestly say that each one of them has positively impacted me in terms of volleyball and life.”

Miller said she learned from all three of the seniors.

“It’s crazy to think that I wont get to play with Brooke, Beth or Lauren next year, but they have taught me so much over just one season,” Miller said. “They have all helped me and the other freshmen to adjust to the difference of college, on and off the court.”

Between the joy, smiles and wisdom brought to the team, the seniors will be missed greatly.

“They are not only my teammates,” Hrapla said, “but some of my best friends.”