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When the net goes down

Riverhawks reflect on 2013 season

Kathryn Epler(4) and Kelsey Warren (8) attempt to block a hit as Danae Perkey, Elysha Lang, and Jocelyn Vallencia cover the court.
Hannah Hawkins / Mainstream
Kathryn Epler(4) and Kelsey Warren (8) attempt to block a hit as Danae Perkey, Elysha Lang, and Jocelyn Vallencia cover the court.

The women’s volleyball team has traveled a long road. Five months of workouts, practices, games and tournaments plus being a full-time student is far from easy.

This year has been full of valleys, but every valley has a mountain peak somewhere. Outside hitter Mariah Gladden, deffensive specialist Jocelyn Valencia, middle blocker Kelsey Warren and setter Danae Perkey share their mountain top experiences on this journey.


What is the greatest moment in your UCC volleyball career?

Gladden: Being able to make new friends on all the sports teams.

Valencia: My greatest moment would probably be when I had to step up to play front row and be an outside hitter during a  game against Clackamas at one of our first tournaments. It’s a position I’ve never played so it was really cool to step up and try something new that would help out my team.

Warren: The Clackamas game at CCC. In my opinion, it was our best game as a team. It was exhilarating, and loads of fun.

Perkey: It was the first practice of the season way back in July. Coach had us start running laps around the gym, and I thought ‘OK this is going to be just like every other year’; then she proceeded to have us do a series of exercises as we ran for what seemed like 20 minutes (though looking back it probably wasn’t that long), and at the end I felt like I was about to throw up, and I watched a couple of my teammates do so. Right then I knew I was in for the best season of my life.


What is your best memory during one of the tournaments you went to?

Gladden: During our first tournament we beat Clackamas and no one expected us to win any games.

Valencia: There have been many awesome memories, especially from tournaments. One of the best would be at the Dorrian Harris Classic tournament. We dressed up as minions from the movie Despicable Me and beat an opponent that underestimated our abilities.

Warren: The warm-up that Elysha led us in during the Green River tournament. She’s a great instructor.

Perkey: The tournament at Garden Valley had really long periods of time between games where we had to stay warm, so my teammate Elysha Lang took on the role of fitness instructor and had us do a bunch of crazy stretches and exercises in really rapid fire so by the end we were all laughing and sweating and coming up with the weirdest stuff.


What is your best memory during a league game or during practice?

Gladden: Showing people what we have the possibility to do.

Valencia: The best memory would be when Mariah does her “pow wow” during our games. Whenever she gets a really good kill, she throws her hands behind her body and tilts her head back and just yells. It gets the whole team so pumped up! Or when we as a team put volleyballs in our shirts and yelled “TEAM LACY” because our coach is pregnant.

Warren: When coach invited us to her baby shower.

Perkey: It was at Mount Hood during the second game and my team was struggling... I had being in a serving funk for the last couple games but when I got back to the line I told myself that no one on the other side of the net was going to touch this serve, and they didn’t. I served six serves in a row to catch the score back up, and four they never even got back over the net.


What has been the best part of playing volleyball for UCC this year?

Gladden: Being a group of freshmen that are able to show people we have a lot of potential.

Valencia: The best part of playing volleyball for UCC this year was my family. Every single one of the girls on the team, including coach, has become a significant part of my life and has been great influences.

Warren: Making new friends.

Perkey: The girls I play with have been the best part. I love each one of them. Kathy is the sweetest girl and can always make us laugh, Elysha is always smiling and is never without a funny story to tell, Jocelyn has the biggest heart and I say is team mom, Mariah is tough and hilarious, Kelsey is one of those girls that when she speaks everyone listens, Katelyn is the most passionate person I know, and Cierra is super sassy but really sweet as well and they all keep me laughing nonstop!


What has been the hardest part of playing volleyball for UCC this year?

Gladden: It is hard being a group of freshmen having to overcome huge obstacles. I just always think of next year and how much more knowledge I will have to pass on.

Valencia: The hardest part has been playing with such a low number. Though it means more playing time, it gets rough sometimes because our bodies want to give up on us, but we have learned to push ourselves not only to better ourselves, but to be there for one another as a team.

Warren: Losing yet trying to keep a positive attitude.

Perkey: I would probably have to say being a team with few numbers. We are a team of eight playing teams with 12 or more. We try our best to match the other teams in enthusiasm and fight, but with fewer numbers it is hard to keep up sometimes.