THE WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL TEAM THEN AND TODAY
The Mount’s women’s volleyball team has a long tradition of success in its storied history, which includes trips to the NCAA Division III tournament and conference championships.
Coach Jon Bennett just finished his fifth season as the Mount’s head women’s volleyball coach, and this year led the team to a 7-2 conference record. In 2012, the team won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Tournament and played in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
We talked about the Mount’s women’s volleyball team then and today with Carolyn Condit ’76, who is now the head women’s volleyball coach at Miami University, and Nicole Sherpensky ’14, who just finished her senior season with the Lions.
What was the recruitment process like?
Carolyn: No coach asked me to attend the Mount to compete. I remember simply going to tryouts and hoping to make the team. It was a dream come true to make a team at the Mount and compete with other talented women my age; and be taught by hard-working, knowledgeable coaches. Good competitive teams were hard to find for girls back then prior to college. I attended a school in the GGCL in Cincinnati and it was natural to feed into the Mount in those days. I also was a member of CYO where competition was provided around the city, and I often saw older Mount athletes officiating these grade school and high school games around Cincinnati. Mary Bierman and Jane Scheper were roles models of mine before I even personally met them at the Mount. I craved this type of competition for the first 17 years of my life!
Nicole: I'd known JB [Coach Jon Bennett] for a couple years before coming to play for him through club. He would answer any questions I had about playing, and I also would talk to some of the players about playing for JB and Cris [Coach Cristina Webb] and would ask them what it was like. After a couple of visits, I knew I wanted to come to school here.
What (if anything) is changing with the sport?
Carolyn: The games are more physical, dominated by bigger athletes who enjoy strength-training programs. Most athletes today specialize and play many years of the same sport - this can be good and bad. The negatives are that some high school athletes lose the sheer joy of competing because they play too much now. We now use “rally scoring” where one team scores on every serve - you no longer have to serve the ball to win the point. This makes the game more of an enjoyable spectator game. Also, a match is now 3 out of 5 sets instead of 2 of 3 sets. The slide attack move has greatly changed the game since the mid-1980s and has helped make the game more strategic and explosive.
Nicole: Rules of the sport change every year it seems. It becomes more and more competitive every year as well.
Why did you choose the Mount?
Carolyn: As an incoming freshman, the Mount attracted me because it was a very good school, it was the size I was looking for, and I heard many good things about the coaches and competitive teams.
Nicole: I chose to come to the Mount because the coaches here are ones who truly care about their athletes, and I could immediately feel the sense of family when I came on my visit.
What are your coaches' expectations?
Carolyn: To work very hard, stay focused, practice well, manage details and represent the Mount with pride. The Mount had a winning tradition and the coaches took great pride in this. It was easy to get on board and be a part of these special programs.
Nicole: Our coaches’ expectations were for us to always put 100 percent into what we do on the court and in the classroom. It was always our expectation to win a conference championship.
Who is your biggest rival?
Carolyn: In those days there were no divisions and the AIAW was the association for women's sports. Competition at the state and regional level helped qualify a team for the national tournament. Our big in-state rivals as I recall were Dayton, Cedarville, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Cleveland State.
Nicole: Our biggest rivals were always Transylvania and Bluffton, as well as Hanover and Rose-Hulman.
What are your favorite wins?
Carolyn: Every time we defeated Dayton, Cincinnati or Ohio State! Also, our win over Illinois in regionals to advance to the National Volleyball Tournament in 1975 in Princeton, New Jersey.
Nicole: One of my favorite wins would have to be beating Transylvania in three sets during the conference championship at home to go to the NCAA [Division III] tournament. I can't put into words that feeling!
How has playing on the Mount's volleyball team affected your life and who you are becoming?
Carolyn: I learned so much about how to be a professional - as teacher and coach. How lucky we were to have Kay, Jean and Pat as role models every day. Their preparation, style of instruction in the classroom or on the court, how they handled themselves in winning and losing situations, how they motivated and disciplined student-athletes.... all of this provided an amazing experience which helped me to clearly define who I was as an educator and coach. They showed us how good and positive and effective coaches can be, and for this I will always be thankful. They taught us the importance of goal setting and performance objectives.
Nicole: Playing for the Mount has changed my life. The people I've met and the experiences we share are something I will never forget. I've gained many leadership skills playing here. I wouldn't be the woman I am today had I not played for the Mount.
This year the football program celebrates its 25th season with the Knowlton Kickoff Classic against Augustana College on Sept. 6, 2014. Women’s volleyball also celebrates its 45th season. Let’s take a look at some fast facts:
The team’s first win was the first football game ever played in Mount history. In 1990, the Lions defeated Rose-Hulman 31-10. The Lions have played in the NCAA Division III playoffs five times.
Since joining the HCAC in 1998, the Mount women’s volleyball team has won or shared 13 regular season HCAC titles (1998-2001, 2003-2008, 2010-2012) and since the 2002 season, has won the HCAC Tournament eight times (2002-2006, 2008, 2010, 2012).
For up-to-date info on all of the athletic programs at the Mount,