Monroe, La. –The ULM indoor volleyball team laid a foundation in the 2016 that it can build on for years to come. Throughout the season the team notched milestones that they weren’t expecting.
Season: The Warhawks played a total of 34 games and finished the season with an overall record of 9-25. The team finished the season with a win percentage of .360, marking the third straight season that the overall record has reflected a win percentage of .300 or higher. ULM played 10 home games, 14 away games and 10 neutral site games. In each of those categories, ULM posted three wins in each for its season total nine wins. The Warhawks also had a three-game winning streak during the year, with victories over Jacksonville State, Georgia State and Georgia Southern.
Non-conference: The Warhawks finished the non-conference schedule with a record of 6-12. The team attended four tournaments: the UCA Volleyball Crain Automotive Invitational, the Tennessee Invitational, the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup and the Gamecock Invitational. The Warhawks were most successful at the UCA Invitational where they finished with a 3-1 record. The team also had four stand-alone non-conference games. Of the 18 non-conference games, the Warhawks played only one of those games at home. ULM defeated Central Arkansas for the first time in school history, now holds a three-game win streak over Jacksonville State and was able to overcome a 22-game losing streak against Louisiana Tech that stretched back to 1991.
Conference: The Warhawks finished the Sun Belt Conference schedule 3-13 with a wining percentage of .230. This is the second highest winning percentage that the team has posted in conference since becoming an SBC member in 2006. The highest winning percentage came in 2011 at .330 and the highest total of Sun Belt wins also came in 2011 with four. The team kicked off the conference schedule at home with two back-to-back wins. ULM had never previousy started the season with back-to-back wins as a Sun Belt member.
Individual milestones: Five Warhawks made All-Tournament teams: Hope Pawlik, Kalena Caruthers, Mikaela Worley, Tara Jenkins and Kacey LeBlanc. Pawlik also reached an individual milestone when she surpassed the 1,000-kill mark. Pawlik was one of only six Warhawks to do so.
Senior class: Of the 79 records that were sprinkled throughout the ULM record book, 56 of those were added by the seniors. The 2016 senior class was the winningest senior class over a four-year time span since the class of 1992.
Records: The Warhawks expanded the ULM record book this year, including some new program-bests:
-There were 51 individual match records that were added in the top 15 of different categories this seaon. Of those 51, there were 22 now inside the top five and three of those that topped the charts. The three that set new records were: Jenkins with 62 assists in a match and in a five-set match, as well as Kaitlyn Shearer with six blocks in a match.
-In individual season records, there were nine that landed in the top 15 of the different categories. Two of those nine were in the top-five, in which LeBlanc recorded 497 digs and 4.52 digs per set to put her at number four in the rankings for both.
-In individual career records, there were 19 that landed in the top 15 of the different categories and of those 15, seven of them were in the top five. There were two new individual career records that were set by Pawlik in attack attempts (3,786) and service attempts (1,239).
-Not only were there new records for individuals but for the team as a whole as well. In team match records, there were 57 that landed in the top 15 of the different categories and 21 of those 57 were in the top five. In addition, five of those set new records: 72 kills vs. Jacksonville, .597 attack percentage vs. Alcorn State, 69 assists vs. Jacksonville State, 72 kills in a five-set match vs. Jacksonville and 69 assists in a five-set match vs. Jacksonville.
-In team season records, there were 12 that landed in the top 15 and three of those 15 were in the top five.
From Coach Hiltz
About the season: From a record stand point, the win/loss record is what everyone wants to talk about and we weren’t anywhere close to where we wanted to be at the end of the season. I think that anyone looking only at our win/loss record is looking at the wrong things. Yes, we might have been eliminated earlier than we might have hoped, but we were more competitive than we have been in any one season since I’ve been here. Again, we only won three conference games, but our losses were not as lopsided as they have been in the past. The way that we played against Georgia State and Georgia Southern was proof that we can play at a high enough level to be in the top half of the conference and certainly in the conference tournament.
About our goal: It was disappointing that we didn’t meet our goal of making it to the conference tournament, but we are a young team. There were a few times this season when we had six first-year players out on the court. I think there was improvement and lot of positives that we can focus on, but at the end of the day we didn’t get the wins that we wanted and we have to go back to the drawing board so that we can get them next year.
About the Records: Ultimately it helps the team buy-in and when those numbers are produced they begin to trust the system that we are putting into place. It should prove to the girls that when they work together within a system as a team then there is success for the individuals within that. If the system fails, then the team and each individual within that team fails. More than anything, seeing those numbers is proof that what we are doing is working, but we just have to get everyone on the same page all the time. If we can get that, those number will continue to go up. We’re not getting the win/loss record that we want, but the record book is showing us that the wins will come.
About the seniors: Unfortunately, we have to replace a couple of big seniors. All three of them brought something to the table that will be hard to replace: Hope’s ability to put the ball away and lock down serve receive, Kaitlyn’s ability to block and Ana’s enthusiasm and energy that were invaluable whether she was on or off the court. We have to get people that will come in and not be those people, but bring their own contribution to the team to try to fill the gap that these seniors will leave.
Where do we go from here: We have to continue what we started this year. This year we really had a team that had really good chemistry, got along and supported each other very well. We want to maintain that going into a new season. There are enough leaders that are coming back that will fill the leadership gap, but this class of seniors laid the foundation for us and it’s our job not to crack that foundation, but continue to build from it.