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Club volleyball teams post home wins

March 27, 2003

By Whitney Long

The Baylor women's club volleyball team defeated Texas A&M University Saturday at the McLane Student Life Center, claiming the Southwest Athletic Conference championship.

The Lady Bears beat the Aggies 25-18 and 26-24, in two games.

'A&M is always our biggest competitor,' Laura Penola, a sophomore outside hitter, said.

The Baylor team has played two tournaments so far this spring season, along with pre-season tournaments in the fall.

The tournaments all ended in fierce competition between the two Big 12 schools, Penola said.

The volleyball club is divided into two separate teams, Baylor Green and Baylor Gold. The green team won the SWAC championship. Baylor Gold fought equally as hard in the tournament, but lost to the Aggies.

'We came back and had a 15-0 run on Southwest Texas State early in the day,' junior outside hitter Tricia Heflich said about the gold team's performance. 'By the end of the day, though, we just couldn't hold on to beat Texas A&M.'

The club organization, under the leadership of senior president Alaena Chilson, is able to take just one team, however, to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association club volleyball championships.

The Baylor club team, currently ranked No. 9 in the nation, has high hopes for this year's nationals.

The team's first appearance at nationals was the spring of 2002 in Dallas. They shocked everyone when they placed ninth out of 60 teams.

Even though the team is a Baylor club sport, the players are obviously not lacking in skill or experience.

Senior middle blocker Kaitlin McEwen, who played varsity volleyball for the University of Notre Dame and the United States Air Force Academy, said she is looking forward to nationals this year because they can only improve upon the way they did during conference play.

'Since I wasn't able to participate with the team at nationals last year, I'm not sure I know what to expect,' McEwen said. 'If we keep playing as well as we have been together, though, I think we have the chance to do really well.'

Senior Tatiana Kenon, a former Baylor varsity volleyball player, plays right side for the green team.

'Tatiana has been a key player for our team throughout conference play,' junior defensive specialist Kate Turner said. 'She has encouraged us to keep the intensity level high.'

Even though the former Division I athlete will not be going to nationals with the team, the players have not let up in their training for a winning performance, Turner said.

The NIRSA club volleyball championships will be held April 10-12 in Columbus, Ohio.