The Goshen College volleyball team ended their season on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to No. 17 Bethel University. After the Pilots won the first set 25-13, the Leafs almost captured a win in the second set — but lost 25-23. They then lost 25-11 in the third set.

Goshen ended the season 8-24, with more wins than the past three seasons combined and its most wins in a season since 2017. The Leafs won 31.3% of the sets they played this season; in 2022, they won 14.4% of their sets. 

Season leaders for the Leafs include junior Sadie Brenneman with 320 kills, freshman Kelsie Hankins with an even 900 assists and freshman Alaina Wolfe with 41 aces and 391 digs. Freshman Bailee Brown guided the team with 74 blocks, with sophomore Brenna Spangler right behind her with 73.

This was the first season with the team for coach Jeff Phillips, which made things difficult. “Goals were less ‘win-lose’ focused and more building a culture and team chemistry,” Phillips said. 

They overcame this obstacle by focusing on their mental training before the season. Hankins described the mental training as “thinking positively in a practice and game scenario.” The team used a “second scorecard” to judge their mental performance, where they would keep track of certain aspects of their play. 

Hankins said that “mental acceptance, intentional trust, intentional selflessness and intentional preparation” were all areas on their second scorecard they looked to improve on. They graded themselves throughout the season based on these goals and improved in all areas.

Phillips said, “On the court, we were competitive and didn’t give up. … We accomplished the off-the-court goals we had and that allowed us to accomplish some of those on-the-court goals, even though we didn’t accomplish all of them.”

Some of the team’s favorite memories came from preseason, where they focused on team bonding. Wolfe’s favorite memory was “riding in the bed of Foster’s [assistant coach] truck on the way back from Hocking Hills State Park.” The team went hiking as a team bonding activity. They also “enjoyed their time in Miller together before the rest of the people got here,” Hankins said.

Although they achieved some goals in the 2022 season, the team is already looking ahead at what to accomplish next season.

Hankins named one goal: “Take some conference wins.” The team has not won a conference game since Nov. 1, 2019, when Goshen beat the University of Spring Arbor. 

“[With] players coming back, it is easier to go and have meetings in the postseason and have a better idea of both them personality-wise as individuals, and as volleyball players,” Phillips said.