Belmont volleyball added six freshmen — including one redshirt freshman — to the team for the 2018 season, and they’re all looking forward to a season of improvement and connecting as a team.
Peyton Kelley, a libero and defensive specialist from Normal, Illinois, came across Belmont after coming to the school’s volleyball camp in the summer of 2016.
“I was just exploring a bunch of different schools,” said Kelley. “I kind of randomly picked a couple different camps that I wanted to go to, and that’s how I discovered Belmont.”
While college volleyball is more fast-paced and competitive than it is in high school, Kelley couldn’t imagine giving up the sport. She’s also excited for the opportunity to continue playing with fellow freshman Carly Mason.
“Peyton and I have played together since we were 10 years old, and we’ve gotten really close ever since we both knew we were coming to Belmont,” said Mason, a setter who hails from Forsyth, Illinois.
As a setter, Mason’s goal for the season is to grow more comfortable with the team’s hitters and improve with the rest of her teammates as they go into conference play. Her favorite part about being a Bruin is the strong connections she’s built with her teammates, other athletes and all of the students she’s met.
Defensive specialist Faith Cobaugh has also loved connecting with her new team, but her biggest goal for the season is simple — help the Bruins get a win.
“I feel like we’ve worked really hard, put a lot of hours in the gym and made huge improvements, so I’d like to have that to show for it,” she said.
After coming from Walton, Kentucky, to the Belmont summer volleyball camps, it became Cobaugh’s dream to be a part of the Belmont volleyball team. Even when she’s not on the court, Cobaugh loves seeing the successes and fantastic plays by her fellow teammates.
“I just love what I’m doing, and I love my team,” she said.
Taylor Floyd, an outside and right side hitter from Louisville, Kentucky, also appreciates all the hard work and hours the team has put in this year. She’s enjoying the faster pace and higher level of competition in college volleyball.
Unlike many Belmont athletes, Floyd never went on an official visit before coming to Belmont.
“I drove to Nashville with my dad in my sophomore year of high school and just ran into coach Tony, who took me around campus,” said Floyd. “I told him I played volleyball and was with my dad, who’s like 6’7”, and coach just liked the height.”
For Kailee Bass — the Bruins’ middle blocker from Aurora, Illinois — the tough competition is nothing new. Bass played in an intense club league that played 5-set matches in high school.
However, Bass sustained an injury this season, so she has not yet been able to put her experience to use.
“I haven’t been able to play against other teams, but just by watching I can tell how they play at the same intensity I had during my club seasons,” said Bass.
Though she can’t play quite yet, Bass has still helped her teammates by hyping them up after each point or good play.
After spending much of the preseason watching and seeing how the Bruins work from the sidelines, Bass is itching to get back on the court and show Belmont what she can do.
“I think my biggest personal goal this season is just to get healthy enough to play again and get my strength back,” she said.
Redshirt freshman Mary Catherine Ball, the outside hitter and middle blocker from Asheville, North Carolina, definitely understands Bass’ sentiment. After getting injured right before the last season in August 2017, Ball is happy to be back and finally able to play again.
“I was pretty much a ball girl last year, so it’s definitely a great change-up to finally be on the court and be interacting with everyone,” said Ball. “It feels like a dream.”
Before the first tournament of the 2018 season, the last time Ball played in an actual game was in the spring of 2017 during her senior year of high school, she said.
“Being back on the court has honestly been a very hard transition to make, but when we get the outcomes we want, it is so rewarding.”
This season, Ball plans to focus more on her mental game, working on staying positive even when things don’t go according to plan.
“Right now we’re working out a lot of communication errors, and we’re just trying to see how the team works as one and trying find the right lineup,” said Ball. “It’s a process, but we’re going to take that time, and it’s going to come as it needs to.”
Be sure to catch the new Bruins on Sept. 11 as they join their teammates in facing off against the Lipscomb Bisons.
This article written by Drew Pearce. Photos courtesy of Belmont University Athletics