Central Michigan volleyball will say its first of many goodbyes as it honors seniors Saturday night at McGuirk Arena.
After playing host to Toledo at 7 p.m. today, the team will cap off its regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Ball State.
This will be the last home match the seniors will play this season.
“They’ve meant everything to me,” junior defensive specialist Jenna Coates said. “They’ve been great mentors, but we’re focusing on playing together until December.”
The seniors include Samantha Brawley, Val DeWeerd, Lindsey Dulude and Jocelyn VerVelde. Each has brought something special to the table for the program.
Brawley started her career as a Chippewa not in a volleyball uniform but in a cross country one. She tried out for the team her sophomore year and has been with the team ever since. She has built a career as a defensive specialist but an even better career as a teammate, being named team captain for three and a half years.
“Brawley won the spirit award the last three years in a row, maybe four, and I don’t think that has ever happened,” head coach Erik Olson said. “She is a tryout kid who found her way into the starting lineup.”
DeWeerd has been a starter at outside hitter for the team for three and a half years and has compiled 458 kills in her career. This year, she also earned the Boyden Award for “satisfactory academic standing whose record best combines participation in a varsity intercollegiate sport with leadership ability …”
“DeWeerd has been starting for us the past three and a half years splitting time with Gotham at right side as a freshman,” Olson said. “She has been a huge deal and is finishing playing her best ball of her career and the second Boyden award in our program’s history.”
Dulude has been a four-year captain for the Chippewas. She was a standout from the get go. As an outside hitter, she has compiled 737 kills and 686 digs in her career thus far.
“Dulude has been on the floor in almost every match in the past four years and has huge heart,” Olson said.
VerVelde started her career at CMU as a sophomore after she was transferred in from North Dakota State. She has recorded 169 kills in her career.
“VerVelde has had big moments where she has really come through for us,” Olson said. “She’s a great team player and a really powerful player.
“As a group, they’re the first senior class to come away with a MAC Championship and first NCAA tournament (appearance). They are an important group that showed future Chippewas the road to success,” he said.
However, it is not goodbye yet; the Chippewas will finish up their regular season Saturday, before heading into the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Following the conference tournament, CMU is taking a trip to Florida during Thanksgiving break.
“I like to say I’m not a senior, I’m a junior. I have to have that mindset. I can’t be ready to be done. I want to pretend it’s not my night; it’s the other seniors’ night,” DeWeerd said.