The women’s volleyball team plays some of the most dominant volleyball in college history and that’s no exaggeration. After going 35-0 in 2019, the team is 25-0 this year, tying them for the Division-III (D-III) winning streak record.
This week’s Athlete of the Week is defensive specialist Evelyn Batista. As a rookie, she’s second on the team in digs with 194, second in service aces with 33, and fourth in assists with 30. She recorded 23 digs in games last week en route to a 3-0 record.
Evelyn spoke with The News-Letter to reflect on his performance and the team’s phenomenal season.
The News-Letter: How did you feel about your performances this year in general?
Evelyne Batista: I am quite confident in my performance this year. Going into first year, I didn’t expect to play a lot, especially since [the team] had already won the national championship. However, after the opportunities were given to me, I was eager to make the most of my time on the pitch. A lot of the skills I learned and developed this year came from my teammates challenging me in training and being coached to a high level. It was really great !
NL: How would you describe your progress this season?
BE: I became a more mature player, being surrounded by so many older players. We have four seniors and two graduate students so there are a lot of experienced players, which has helped me grow in my confidence and learning the game.
NL: Are there any pieces in particular that you are very proud of?
BE: Yes, one of them was at the beginning of the season. I was still getting to know the fullback position, which requires me to read the batters and put myself in the best position to get a nice ball. As I prepared to swing, I was on the floor and served a really good offense and had a nice recovery. It really boosted my confidence playing in the back row.
Last weekend I was serving against [Christopher Newport University] and I had served a ball that seemed out of bounds, but then I saw it hit the ground and I had scored an ace. It was really great. I was able to increase my confidence and serve much more aggressively.
NL: How does it feel to be undefeated on the year and tied for the D-III record for consecutive wins? Do you feel extra pressure to stay undefeated?
BE: It’s really exciting to be undefeated. I’ve never been on an undefeated team before. All thanks to the hard work and resilience of our team. During practices and matches, we approach with an aggressive mindset, but we are still able to maintain our calm confidence, which is really important during [high] pressure situation.
Most of us don’t really consider [the D-III consecutive win streak] getting in the game. We’re trying to put ourselves in the best position for the playoffs and just trying to win as many games as possible so that we can host the Centennial Conference championships and all the regional championships. [National Collegiate Athletic Association] tournaments.
NL: How does it feel to go into every game knowing there’s a target behind your back?
BE: It’s quite exciting to know that each team will give us their best match. We really like competition and that’s why we play this sport, so when teams play so aggressively[ly] possible, it allows us to grow by fighting back and learning how to defeat teams that really want to win. We push back even harder.
NL: How are you feeling as the tournament approaches?
BE: We feel good. There are still areas where we want to improve. We can always improve, but I think we’re excited to keep doing our best and learning from new opponents and people who will challenge us along the way.