Volleyball redefines team through conference play


Treasure Franklin | Staff Photographer

The Lions host the Bellarmine Knights on Fri., Sept. 30 in Flowers Hall. The Lions lost to Bellarmine 2-3. Below: Senior outside hitter Taylor Floyd returns the ball.

Noah Catchings, Sports Editor

The UNA volleyball team has undergone significant changes for their 2022 season including coaches, staff and players. So far, the team holds a record of 11-5 at the time of publication, and the Lions are proving that they are able to play at the Division I level.
“In the pre-conference, we were able to set a new Division I program record for wins in a season with 10 [wins],” said volleyball head coach Tristian Johnson.
The Lions have a solid record, good energy in games and valuable fans cheering them on into the conference schedule. Their record for this season is encouraging for fans, coaches and players alike.
The start of the conference has been rough for the Lions with a loss to Kennesaw State and a loss to Jacksonville State, but their conference play is not over yet. The players are still improving and adjusting to new staff and other players. The first few games allowed the Lions to familiarize themselves with new opponents and adapt to compete in the ASUN conference.
“In our first match against Kennesaw, I felt we executed and played well,” said Johnson. “[The Owls] are a quality team and winning on the road in the conference is tough.”
As for the Jacksonville State match, Johnson shared that the team did not execute their game plan, and he believed the loss from Kennesaw State played a part in this. But, Johnson thinks the Lions still fought hard, and he’s proud of them.
Jacksonville State University is well known in the ASUN conference for volleyball. The Gamecocks recently lost 2-3 to Auburn University.
There are a few key players on the court helping lead the Lions to a winning season.
“Ella [Ratzloff] is our libero, and she won the ASUN Defensive Player of the Week award a few weeks ago,” Johnson said. “That’s the first weekly award other than freshman of the week in program history.”
Ratzloff, a senior from Woodbury, Minn., previously played volleyball at Rhode Island.
“To begin conference play, Hayley Martin has also done a great job of stepping in and coming through with some nice performances,” Johnson said. “Her abilities and the depth [as an outside hitter] have been huge for us.”
Martian is a freshman from Elgin, Ill.