Zachary Small ’25 has been an integral part of the Wabash volleyball team’s back line from the season’s start. But since moving to the libero position, he’s become one of if not the most important defensive player on the team. And on March 14, Small’s efforts were rewarded when he earned the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League Defensive Week Eight Player of the Week.
“It felt great to have my hard work and play recognized,” said Small. “I feel like I was able to support our offense by receiving well in our game against Mount St. Joseph, but I really have to thank my blockers for being so easy to defend behind in our games against both Wittenberg and Mount St. Joseph.”
Against Wittenberg and Mount St. Joseph University on March 10 and 11, Small put up 35 digs with only two reception errors. Twenty three of those digs came against Mount St. Joseph, setting a new school record in a four-set match.
“Small had a huge first week playing in the conference,” said Head Volleyball Coach Ryan Bowerman. “He‘s stepped into that libero role in the last month for us and he‘s doing a great job. Zach [Small] brings tons of energy to the floor—he‘s a great energy guy. He really understands the game and sees a lot of what‘s going on. And his vision on the court and his aggressive defensive mentality has kept us in some games.”
In the team’s most recent match against Fontbonne University on March 18, the Little Giants fell in four competitive sets. It was a slow start for Wabash, losing the first set 25-16. But the team came back swinging in the second set, springing to an early 18-9 lead and winning it 25-21 after stifling a late push from Fontbonne. The third and fourth sets were the most contested of the entire competition. Unfortunately, the Little Giants feel just short, losing by a score of 25-23 in both of the final sets.
The defeat to Fontbonne brought the team to an 8-15 record on the season with an 0-3 MCVL record. Despite pushing hard, the team has yet to secure that elusive first conference win.
“We had a tough start to the conference season,” said Bowerman. “Despite the losses, we played pretty competitively in those matches. It felt like we hung in there and had a few moments that we didn‘t execute or take advantage of where we could have. But we also saw some things that were pretty positive from all those matches.”
The Little Giants will play Trine University on Friday, March 24, for their next conference appearance. This will be the team’s second time facing Trine, the first being a non-conference match earlier in the season. In the earlier match, Wabash narrowly lost 1-3 after forcing extra points in the final set. But given that Trine boasts the second-best conference record, it will be no easy task to eke out a win.
“We played Trine earlier in the season, which was a close set match, but they‘ve been playing pretty well lately,” said Bowerman. “They‘ve got a couple players that are some of the conference leaders offensively. So we know that, going into that match, we‘ve got to play tough. In our last few matches we‘ve been serving really well. We’ve been passing pretty well and getting some really great block touches to be able to slow things down to net. I think if we can keep doing the things we‘ve been doing well, we should have a good competitive match against Trine.”