Volleyball ends season with first ever conference win

Season leading scorer Patrick Volk ’26 rises for a spike against Baldwin Wallace University on April 2, 2023, at Chadwick Court. Photo by Jake Paige ’23.

The Wabash volleyball team capped off their third season of varsity action with their first ever conference victory, a 3-0 win against Olivet College at home on April 8. And there couldn’t have been a more fitting way to cap off the year. Finishing with a 9-19 (1-7 MCVL) re- cord, the Little Giants picked up more wins in 2023 than they had in their previous two seasons combined. The year may have been a steep learning curve, but there can be no denying that this is a program on an upward trajectory.

At the helm of the team is Head Volleyball Coach Ryan Bowerman ’11, who has coached the program since its inception in December 2020. Having built the team from scratch, Bowerman has seen his team’s performances come on in leaps and bounds since then.

“The team has made huge strides in so many ways over the past three years,” said Bowerman. “We’ve improved year by year in every statistical category, but I think a lot of that comes down to aspects of improvement that are harder to measure. Our players are learning our system, they’re more competitive at practice, they understand the game better, and they understand what it takes to be successful at our level.”

One of the driving factors of the team’s improvement in 2023 was a very successful recruitment campaign. Undeniably the most valuable acquisition in the preseason was Patrick Volk ’26. A native of California, Volk has been the heart of this year’s Little Giants roster, leading the team in scoring, with 338 points on the season, and ranking third in digs (293). Michael Enz ’26 has been another key addition to the team, finishing second in blocks (51) for Wabash.

“It was a really fun first year,” said Volk. “Getting playing time from the beginning and throughout the year really allowed me to develop parts of my game that, had I not gotten those opportunities, wouldn’t be a part of my arsenal. I believe I was able to bring an offensive presence on the right side that had been missing in previous years, as well as a lot of energy and reliability in tough situations.”

But on top of the massive contributions made by new- comers, returning players have made up the backbone of the team. Ricky Sessions ’24, Jackson Leeper ’25 and Luke Davis ’24 were the second, third and fourth lea- ding scorers respectively, combining for 736.5 of the team’s 1,315 points. What’s more, Will Beikes ’25 led the team in assists, racking up an astonishing 628.

“We had some freshmen that made huge contributions this season, but our returners have also put in a ton of work over the last few years to improve their level of play,” said Bowerman. “A lot of our players worked hard in the offseason to come back stronger and with the experience they’ve gained, their overall understanding of the game has improved as well.”

One of Bowerman’s main focuses for the team has been developing confidence and chemistry between players. Being a new program that didn’t win many games in the previous two seasons, Wabash volleyball needed to come into the season expecting to win and using their improvements to take the next step as a program.

“One of the biggest obstacles for a young program is the mental hurdle of seeing yourself as a legitimate competitor with more established programs,” said Bowerman. “Developing that competitive confidence has been a challenge, but I think we had some breakthrough moments this season that showed our players we can compete with anyone on our schedule.”

With the team only in its third year, there are no se- niors to graduate. As a result, the roster will return in 2024 at full strength, supplemented by a class of incming freshmen.

“I see our team continuing to trend in a really positive direction,” said Bowerman. “We will return everyone from this year’s team and we’ll add some really talented freshmen to the mix as well. We all felt like we were playing some really good volleyball at the end of the sea- son, and I expect us to pick up next year right where we left off.”