TOPEKA (KSNT)- Washburn volleyball dominated the 2021 season.
The Ichabods finished the year 31-6 overall, 17-3 in the MIAA and just one victory short of winning the DII national title. All that is in the past now, and their 2022 team is moving on.
"Look forward, eyes forward," Washburn senior libero Sydney Pullen said. "Keep what we can do to keep the momentum forward with this new group."
Trying to live up to a team that made a run to the national title game can be a challenge.
"There is a lot of outside noise," sophomore outside hitter Jalyn Stevenson said. "Everyone talking about how successful we were last year and how great of a season it was."
This team refuses to live in the glory of past success.
"It is definitely a little bit intimidating, but we're not going to let that get to us," Pullen said. "We're going to find this group, get together and get to where we need to be."
As players change, they will continue to set the bar high, head coach Chris Herron said.
"We look completely different than last year's team," he said. "Expectations here don't really change."
The group is motivated by people who might think they can't accomplish the things last year's stellar senior class did.
"[We're] kind of using that as a chip on our shoulder to come out here and show everybody that just because last year's team did it, doesn't mean we can't," Pullen said.
With those 12 new players, it's important these girls get to know each other.
"We do a lot of team lunches, dinners, book club," sophomore Chloe Paschal said. "All really fun things. Team bonding."
"The more they talk to each other, the more they get to know each other and become lifelong friends quicker," Herron said.
In the midst of all of the outside noise, the team is trying its best to continue to enjoy the game.
"It can be hard, but really focusing on like every point thinking that I get to be here," Stevenson said. "I don't have to be here. I get to be here. It's a great experience that not everyone gets the chance to have."
"If I wasn't having a good time I still wouldn't be here," Herron said. "I've been here a long time, so yeah, I'm enjoying the heck out of it."
Washburn tips off its season Friday, Aug. 26, in the University of Nebraska-Kearney Fall Classic. The 'Bods will play Central Washington in their first match.