THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The 2017 Cal Lutheran women's volleyball season was cut short after battling many challenges throughout the year but is still seen, no less than a successful learning lesson as they cap off the season going 16-12.
Seniors Hope Stewart, Molly Holloway and junior Amanda Roberts led the team and earned All-SCIAC honors. Stewart earned First Team All-SCIAC for her second time while Holloway and Roberts both earned Second Team honors.
The Regals four seniors, Mikayla Dobson, Holloway, Stewart and Jamie Smith did a "great job leading the team this year when it was really, really hard to", said head coach Kellee Roesel. "It's a constant learning process for me and this program. At the end of the day, I need to do a better job. I was proud of the effort. I thought the kids did everything I asked them to do. And that's what nobody sees except for us [coaching staff].
"The extra hours they put in in the weight room, all that stuff. The team comradery and the culture and everything is exactly how we have it planned and developed. We were competitive, especially after having lost so many kids. So at the end of the day, if I look at it as a whole, I'm really proud of the group. And we need to focus on the positive".
The seniors played key roles for Cal Lutheran this past season. Co-captain Stewart led the Regals in kills with 278 in 27 matches, averaging 2.84 kills per set. She finished with a hitting percentage of .223 with 103 errors in 783 attempts. The Oxnard, Calif. native was also a strong force defensively ending the season with 162 digs and 30 blocks.
As a starting middle blocker, Holloway appeared in all 28 matches this season, averaging 2.13 kills per set and ended with a .300 hitting percentage. She led the Regals with 28 aces and finished with 221 kills, 54 digs and 66 blocks. Holloway was named to the Trinity National Tournament All-Tournament team back in September that was followed closely by the SCIAC Athlete of the Week.
Dobson was, as coach Roesel puts it "crucial for us – constantly switching positions back and forth". She played in 24 matches in her last season, accumulating 48 assists and 140 digs. She came in third overall for the Regals with 24 aces.
One of the biggest positives from this season though, came from co-captain Smith. In her final season of competitive volleyball, Smith added to her career assists total, which concludes with 3,006, moving her into second all-time in CLU history. She ended this season appearing in 26 matches and 82 sets, with 559 assists, 10 blocks, 30 kills and 148 digs.
Head coach Roesel could not be more proud of Smith. "I think that is an amazing accomplishment for her. Jamie worked really hard and is probably one of the most competitive kids I've ever had here. She's what you want in a setter, she's very level-headed, tireless, cerebral, works extremely hard, doesn't get too high or too low and she's just the constant, consistent factor.
"What an amazing career she had here. It speaks volumes. I mean to come in after a kid like that [Jackie Russell-Griffin who holds the CLU record in assists] and not really playing your freshman year and end up having those kind of numbers, it's massive and is a tribute to her teammates too I think, it's huge. What an absolute great career for that kid".
Co-captain and outside hitter, Roberts was phenomenal in 2017. She played in all 28 matches and finished second for the Regals in kills and aces. She was only one kill shy of Stewart and one ace shy of Holloway with 277 kills and 27 aces, respectively. She did, however, lead the team in digs with 312, averaging 3.06 digs per set.
"Her overall numbers might not reflect it but man, that kid had games where she was lights out and was as good as anybody in the nation," said Roesel. "I thought she did a fantastic job as far as leading the group and I know she's really motivated to come back and hit it hard in her senior season".
Steph Rolfson was a high point for the Regals as well this year. She was able to see the court quite a bit, which is why she came in second with 393 assists this season. CJ O'Brien, Amy McKee, and Paris Dosch came in clutch this year defensively and offensively. Carly Rose Howard had a breakout year this past season.
"I thought she was fantastic and was absolutely our best passer," said Roesel. "That kid rarely makes a mistake. She was solid for us, coming in in a tough situation and earned that spot on the court".
Even though some players did not see the court as much as she would have hoped, Coach still believes that the Regals have a bright future in the teams to come. "Talking to these kids, in their post-game meetings, they're all really focused and motivated.
"I'm excited about the future. I thought the kids that got recognized deserved the recognition. I'm proud of the coaching staff for hanging in there. I'm going to work really hard and I know these kids are going to as well. I'm really proud of them. If you look at it, at the whole season, it's hard to say it wasn't a successful season."
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Release by Nicki Tetherow, Assistant Sports Information Director