Grit, mental toughness drive Viterbo Volleyball’s 2nd half success

Viterbo Volleyball was seconds away from getting swept in the North Star conference championship over the weekend.

They faced several match points against Bellevue, and wound up winning in five sets to clinch an automatic bid to the national tournament.

The V-Hawks say that kind of response when backs are against the wall is a testament to their mental game.

“We’ve got a great sense of grit and we really enjoy working with together,” senior Maya Roberts said, “so there’s a great sense of coming together as a team when things get tough. And in this program we talk a lot about the process. That’s constantly working hard getting after it.”

“You’ve come to expect that you don’t know what to expect, and week by week changes, day by day changes,” head coach Ryan DeLong said. “If COVID has taught us anything it’s just to take it one day at a time.”

The season was split in two parts, and the last half has been vastly different. Viterbo is 13-7, but in their 12 matches in the second half, they’ve gone 11-1.

Part of the turnaround stems from getting some athletes back from injuries like setter Abbey Johnson, and overall just building chemistry on the court. It all adds up to Viterbo peaking at the right time for nationals.

“We had a little bit of struggles in the fall, and I think we used that as motivation for this spring season,” Roberts said.

“I’m really proud of how we could re-establish everything, get our minds right and work hard over the winter break,” sophomore and Holmen native Kenzie Winker said.

“Really that national tournament is our time to shine,” Roberts added, “so we’re excited about the opportunity to have this first game of nationals on our home floor.”

Viterbo will host 15-4 Madonna out of Michigan on Saturday.