The Mount Vernon Nazarene University women’s volleyball team wrapped up another season under head coach Paul Swanson this fall, compiling a record of 15-20 overall and 3-15 in Crossroads League action.
The season, although not what the ladies wanted, had many bright spots. This season saw Lady Cougar senior Kristen Osborn reach the 1,500-kill mark, as well as entering the top 10 in kills all-time in the history of the program. In addition, the emergence of freshmen Ellie Ruby, Nichole Winkler, Tory Small, and Regan Nickol has the future looking bright.
Also, after the season, the court in Ariel Arena was dedicated to Coach Swanson. Ariel Arena is now Paul Swanson Court at Ariel Arena. During the men’s basketball game vs. Cornerstone on Nov. 10, a ceremony during halftime honored the long-time coach of 35 years. The dedication surprised Swanson as multiple alumni and current team members were present.
“The night before, the MVNU athletic department added three new hall of famers, and I just thought it would be a recognition of all hall of famers that were in the crowd,” Swanson said. “The dedication is a testament to this awesome university for believing in me and my players for always giving their best”.
Key players this season that helped the offense were Osborn (361 kills), Winkler (317 kills), sophomore Mary Kate Harmody (246 kills) and Small (236 kills). Senior Katelyn Dufur helped set up the attack with 555 total assists as well as Nickol who had 424 assists.
On the defensive side, Osborn and Ruby led the defense with 839 combined digs. The Cougars had some very nice moments on the court, but Osborn knows playing has never been about wins and losses, stats or bragging rights.
“Coach Swanson has reminded us the most important thing is that our hunger for competition, perseverance in hard times, humility and team-oriented attitude reflecting a love for Jesus and a desire to use his gifts he has given us for his glory,” Osborn said.
In the four years playing for MVNU, Dufur, Audrey McCullough, and Osborn had a record of 96-47 overall, 50-30 in the Crossroads League and 38-12 at home. The four years also included a Crossroads League regular season and tournament championship in 2015 and two NAIA national tournament appearances.
There have been many memories for the seniors, but certain ones stick out.
“I will always remember winning the conference championship at home vs. Indiana Wesleyan,” Osborn said. “My favorite memories include going to Oregon for the opening round of the NAIA tournament and holding the very first Halloween practice this year where we all dressed up in costumes,” Dufur said.
After this season, the Lady Cougars will bring back 13 players that all played in a match this year. The team will look to build off the positives of this season and are looking forward to a good spring to gear them up for next season.