Looking Back at Colgate Volleyball’s Record Season

The Colgate Volleyball team ended their record season with their first Patriot League Championship appearance since 2016. Finishing up the regular season with a record of 7-1, they entered the tournament as the top seed. The team started with a win against American University, beating them in five sets to advance to the Patriot League Championship. Coach Baker points to this game in particular as a monumental win, as it was the first time that American was not in the championship in Patriot League history. Unfortunately, the Raiders lost to Army in four sets, finishing the season with an 8-2 record.

The Women’s Volleyball team demonstrated mental toughness, hard work and perseverance throughout their season which led to an impressive team culture, a key factor in their success. Coach Baker credits much of the culture to the leadership of senior Alli Lowe, junior Julia Kurowski and senior Bridget Kolsky, saying that no one has ever had to lead in a pandemic and these three girls “kept the team light at the right times, and focused at the right times.” Their experience shined in games, creating a consistency of play that relieved much of the pressure on the younger players and gave them someone to look up to. Lowe was named Patriot League Player of the Year, a first for the Colgate program, while Kurowski earned the program’s first Setter of the Year honor.

“This team is honestly one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on. We all genuinely get along and trust each other, and that translates onto the court,” Lowe said.

Kurowski echoed Lowe’s sentiment, praising the team’s collective effort throughout the season.

“What you can’t train for is heart and grit, yet every player on this team brought it to every practice and game,” she said.

Kurowski also attributes much of the success of the team to the coaches.

“Ryan and Michelle were a dynamic duo providing the enthusiasm that pushed us to improve specific aspects of our game,” she said. “Both focused on making each one of us better individually yet were able to build us into a cohesive team.”

COVID-19 proved an obstacle the team had to overcome together. They worked hard to follow all COVID-19 guidelines to ensure they were able to play. However, the team went into their first game of the season not having played a game for 434 days and only having practiced as a team for a week. However, Lowe noted that the team’s intrasquad scrimmages were harder than some of the games they played, demonstrating the elite level of the team.

Coach Baker and Lowe also saw COVID-19 pushing the season to the spring as a good thing, allowing for the freshmen to learn to play with the upperclassmen and adjust to the speed of the college game without the pressure of jumping right into games. Ultimately, the team was grateful to be able to play and have a season above anything else.

Looking forward to the 2021 season, Coach Baker wants to work on getting the team stronger via weightlifting in order to handle the longer season, as the team’s game broke down against Army due to the fatigue of playing back-to-back games. Kurowski wants the team to focus on “staying in game shape, staying healthy and focusing on skill,” to become an unstoppable force next year. While they will lose Lowe and Kolsky next season, they will certainly benefit from their tournament experience and Kurkowski’s return, helping facilitate a strong momentum to be carried over to next year. Kurowski quoted Coach Baker as saying, “A true competitor hates to lose more than they love to win,” emphasizing the power that losing the championship will have in motivating the team’s hunger to win next year.