Full steam ahead for Simpson volleyball

by Jessica McDonald

The Simpson volleyball team hosted seven teams at the 14th annual Simpson Invitational last weekend.

Simpson ended day one with a 3-0 win over Westminster and a 3-0 loss to Washington University, the No. 1 team in Div. III volleyball.

A 3-1 win against St. Mary’s and a 3-2 loss to St. Olaf gave Simpson a tie for third place. St. Olaf was the biggest surprise for the Storm.

“St. Olaf wasn’t what we expected,” said Head Coach Lana Smith. “They played very competitively.”

St. Olaf beat Wartburg, the No. 1 team in the IIAC, and also took a game from Washington University.

Simpson’s overall record went to 12-8 and are ranked eighth in the region.

“It was a good weekend for us,” said junior Liz Whims. “We always want to go undefeated but with Wash U. being ranked No. 1 in the nation, we had to set realistic goals.”

Playing the Washington University team was a good experience for the Storm.

“This was the best team Wash U. has had and they were very competitive,” said Smith.

“It was really neat to say we played the No. 1 ranked team in the nation,” said senior Katie Weisz.

Smith likes to focus on the conference competition. The Simpson Invitational gave the Storm an opportunity to get game experience for Tuesday’s match against Central.

“It gave us a chance to see where our weaknesses were and what we needed to improve on for the Central game,” said Weisz.

The Storm also got a chance to see Wartburg play for the first time. Both Central and Wartburg are top competitors for the Iowa Conference title.

“Every weekend tournament helps us get ready for the upcoming week’s conference play,” said Smith.

The Simpson Invitational was at the mid-point of the Storm’s season. Looking back at the first half of the season, the team has grown.

One of the original starters was injured at the beginning of the season. This gave the Storm an opportunity to show the team’s depth.

“We adjusted some lineups and we came together well,” said Whims.

The Storm has some challenges ahead of them as it has yet to play the top IIAC teams.

Smith remains confident going into these matches.

“We haven’t reached our peak yet,” said Smith. “We keep getting better each time we hit the floor.”

Smith hopes to take home first place at the Iowa Conference tournament.

“It’s a very realistic goal this year,” said Smith. “We just need to keep our mental skills polished.”