December 16, 2017

Volleyball finishes third in conference

For the second straight season, Greenville has ended Webster University’s volleyball season.

Head coach Merry Graf said there were some highlights from the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament game against Greenville, but there were too many unforced errors.

“Greenville has been a good competitor [against] us for several years,” Graf said. “Our two teams have had some epic battles.

During the regular season, Webster beat Greenville on the road, but lost to them at home.

Senior defensive specialist (DS) Maria Soffner said the win against Greenville during the regular season was the best game the Gorloks played all season.

“We played together as a team [that game] and never got frazzled,” Soffner said. “We had great communication and confidence that was steady throughout the three matches … Our attacking was powerful and smart, paired with amazing blocking.”

Soffner said she could not pinpoint a difference between the regular season win against Greenville and the tournament loss, but said mental toughness is a huge factor in games.

“They will always be our biggest rival, so I think that puts a lot of pressure on a team,” Soffner said. “I think we fought hard and played with a lot of passion, but unfortunately, could not string it all together in the moment.”

Soffner finished tenth in school history with 1171 digs. Graf said Soffner had earned her spot on the list of stellar athletes who have played DS for Webster.

“Maria did a great job as our libero this year, and played every set of every game,” Graf said. “She averaged 5.1 digs per set, which places her fifth highest in a season.”

Soffner was named to the SLIAC All-Conference First Team after the season concluded. Torie Grassi was named All-Conference Second Team.

Soffner said Grassi is deserving of the award and will continue to be great next season.

“Torie is an amazing athlete,” Soffner said. “She comes ready to play each game, and has a level of level- headedness about her that has a great presence on the court. She’s a go to girl to make you laugh and to pick up the team with a kill or block.”

Webster finished third in the SLIAC with a 15-3 conference record, and were 17-14 overall. The match against Greenville was the final game for eight senior players.

Graf said 10 players will return next season, including seven who played a significant role in varsity matches this year.

“At one point during the Emory tournament, I looked at the court and realized we had two seniors, one junior, one sophomore and two freshmen on the court,” Graf said. “The experience they gained this year will be invaluable for them, and will help us continue to compete for the conference title again this year.”

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