UW-Whitewater’s volleyball team is in midseason form.
The Warhawks (18-3, 5-0) are ranked No. 9 in the nation and are tied with UW-La Crosse atop the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings. The Warhawks’ last loss came Sept. 16 against No. 2 Southwestern (Texas). Since then, the team has won 11 straight matches.
Head coach Stacy Boudreau said the team’s success can’t be pinned on just a few players.
“It’s really been a team effort, it’s everybody,” Boudreau said. “I definitely feel like our seniors have stepped up and have been very good leaders for us. They lead by example and make sure they’re communicating with the younger players and helping them along.”
Boudreau cited right side hitter Sydney Racky as one of the senior leaders for the Warhawks.
Racky, a 2016 third team All-American who attended Walworth Big Foot High, is averaging a team-high 3.14 kills per set and is third in the WIAC in hitting percentage with a .289 mark in league play.
“We have a really well-rounded team,” Racky said. “We have a lot of depth, and how balanced we are allows us all to be super successful. Maybe if on one night I might be struggling, I know that somebody is going to have my back and pick it up.”
Senior middle hitter Courtney Wagner has also been a catalyst for the Warhawks, Boudreau said. Wagner is averaging 2.89 kills per set and her 1.05 blocks per set rank first in the conference.
And it hasn’t just been the seniors that have stepped up for the Warhawks.
Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Butterfield, a graduate of Milton High, and junior middle hitter Amanda Spera both crack the top 15 in kills in the WIAC with the pair averaging over two per set.
Junior setter Elizabeth Niestrom leads the conference in assists (11.24 per set).
Junior defensive specialist and libero Brittany Robinson is averaging 5.67 digs per set, good for second in the conference.
Robinson, a 2016 All-America honorable mention, has not only been a three-year starter for the Warhawks, but she is one of the on-court leaders.
“I try my best in certain situations to lead, especially on the court,” Robinson said. “You have to be vocal, no matter what the situation is. You have to be talking to your hitters, calling the ball and talking to your center. I think that’s a way you can be a leader as well, without having the title as a senior captain.”
The Warhawks are also clicking off the court.
“This year we have a lot of team chemistry,” Robinson said. “We’ve had it in the past, but this year is a lot different. There’s a lot of underclassmen, but we all get along so well and we all hang out outside of volleyball.”
Boudreau echoed Robinson’s sentiments and described her team as a close-knit group.
“They enjoy being around each other, on the court and on our road trips,” said Boudreau, whose team plays a nonconference match at Edgewood College on Wednesday and will attempt to defend its WIAC tournament title beginning Oct. 31. “I think this is a pretty special team, where we’ve got very high team chemistry off the court and it’s really translating on the court.”