Junior Lauren Borik led the team with 323 kills this season. However, she still credits her teammates for her award.
At the conclusion of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament, junior outside hitter Lauren Borik received her second consecutive Player of the Year award.
Borik became the eighth player in conference history to win the award multiple times. She is also the second player in Webster history to win this award two seasons in a row.
According to Borik, winning Player of the Year this season felt a little more special compared to last season due to COVID-19 protocols. Last year, since fans were not allowed, there wasn’t an award ceremony. However, this year, the award ceremony was presented after the championship game, which gave Borik a chance to celebrate with her teammates.
“My teammates figured out I won before I did,” Borik said. “I was surrounded by high fives and hugs before I realized that I was awarded Player of the Year. It was a bit overwhelming.”
Despite returning this season as the reigning Player of the Year, Borik said she didn’t feel any pressure until her coaches told her other teams would be watching her now.
Borik led the Gorloks with 323 kills this season. She also ranked top five for the conference in hitting percentage and digs while starting in all 25 regular season matches.
The Gorloks ended the season 13-14, losing to Greenville University in the semifinals of the SLIAC tournament. Greenville would go on to win the championship. According to Borik, the teams they faced this season were talented and well prepared. She said this forced them to elevate their game.
“In the second half of the season, it felt like our team developed a rejuvenated spirit,” Borik said. “We started having better practices and winning some games. We were definitely improving as a team. Unfortunately, we came up a little short at the end.”
Borik said that being a good team requires hard work. According to her, she developed a special friendship with her teammates as they went through good and bad days on the court together.
Head Coach Merry Graf said it wasn’t the season the team hoped for. According to Graf, they struggled in the middle of the season with confidence but started to turn things around at the end of the season.
Despite falling short of their championship goals this season, Graf said she was excited for Borik when she won Player of the Year. According to Graf, Borik deserved this award because she works very hard on and off the court.
“She has some limitations with her body, and a lot of people don’t realize it, because she works so hard to make sure she keeps herself in the best physical condition so she can compete at the highest level,” Graf said. “As a coach, I definitely see that and I respect her for it. So it’s very exciting to see her win (Player of the Year).”
Borik is Graf’s fourth player to win this award. According to Graf, winning this award isn’t easy. She said Borik deserves even more respect because she won this award while playing all six rotations on the court. Graf said most of the leaders in the SLIAC are players who only play the front row.
Borik said it’s an honor to win this award because there are so many talented players in the conference. However, she also finds the award a little silly, since volleyball is a sport which requires more of a team atmosphere compared to other sports.
“You cannot even touch the ball twice in a row in volleyball, so one person cannot even make a play without their teammates,” Borik said. “I have been blessed to have so many great teammates here at Webster. I would not even be in the conversation of Player of the Year without them. This award comes from all of their hard work, not just mine.”
Borik said her teammates reacted with a tremendous amount of excitement when she was announced Player of the Year. However, she still wants them to know they were the ones who made all of this possible.
“My teammates are the best,” Borik said. “I just hope they can comprehend that they played a huge role in earning this award, a much bigger role than I played.”
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Kaelin Triggs (he/him) is the sports editor for the Journal. He is a journalism major pursuing a career in sports writing. He also runs for Webster's track and cross country team, and he enjoys playing piano and hanging out with friends and family.