Last Friday night was a special game for the women’s volleyball team. This was the night of their Pink-Out game, where every one of the athletes and fans wore pink to support those who are going through the fight against breast cancer. Not only was the spirit shown admidst the crowd, but it was also reflected through the game, pertaining specifically to the game’s score. The Vikings crushed Knox’s spirit, winning 3-0. How the Vikings beat Knox is not something that’s easily achievable. Knox did not win a single set in the match, thus, this shutout makes the night’s event even more glorious in all its form. A big contributor to the night’s win was senior Katie Kumbalek. I asked Katie how the tone of the night’s event changed their game. Katie said, “We always go out and play for each other, but playing for the cure gives us something bigger than us to play for.” Having Pink-Out on the line is a big motivator, but also with it comes the pressure. Fortunately, the Vikings showed no mercy. That mental toughness and determination that the Vikings displayed is the reason why the Vikings won that game and how they obtained a shutout. I asked Kumbalek what her opinion was on the matter though, why she thought they were so successful against Knox that night. Katie says, “We were able to make smart decisions about where to place the ball when attacking so Knox wasn’t able to dig them up. We also had aggressive serves that kept them out of system so their setter had either one or no options for a hitter to set.” In addition, I asked Kumbalek what she will take away from playing volleyball at Lawrence, what skills she will bring with her that she learned and what she hopes to accomplish during her final season here. Kumbalek responded by saying, “For my last season I really hope that we can make it to the conference tournament. We’ve worked hard, and I think that we have the skill to do it. During my time on the volleyball team, I’ve learned a lot about leadership and how to work through tough situations. I’m sure that both of those skills will help me after Lawrence in my everyday life”
I also asked head volleyball coach Matt Shoultz if he had projected for the Vikings to be so successful and beat Knox. He said, “We go into every conference match thinking we can beat them. Our conference is competitive, and anyone could beat anyone on any day.” I think it is important to consider how the Pink-Out event, impacted the Vikings’ game, so I asked coach Shoultz what he thought. He said, “We have a ‘Play for a Cure’ match every year. We like to bring awareness to all types of cancer and let people know we are supporting them in their fight. Members of our current and past teams have had family members deal with cancer. It has always been something close to our hearts.” So, having players that were and may still be deeply impacted by cancer may be the reason why the Vikings played so valiantly. Coach believes “we had success against Knox because we had a low number of errors. We played aggressive, mixed up our offense and played tough defensively at the net and in the backcourt. We hope this carries forward for the rest of our conference play.” To sum up, the Pink-Out event shows how important team bonding and togetherness is, and these ladies showed that together, you can achieve an unlikely possibility, by them shutting out Knox. Together you can beat anything.