New Coach, Tone, and History: A Look Back at BVU’s Historic 2022 Volleyball Season


All photos provided by Jadyn Forbes.

Joshua Woolcott, Contributing Writer

This season saw the volleyball team at Buena Vista University soar to new heights. Last year, the women’s volleyball team finished eighth in the conference, but this year ended in a second-place finish in the conference tournament.

While changes to the roster that come every year with graduating seniors and people leaving or joining the team are standard, perhaps the biggest change for the Beavers was the addition of the new head coach Will Baumann.  

 “There’s no question it was a season of learning and growing, mentally and physically,” Baumann said. “Our skill sets certainly improved; our mindsets certainly improved.”  

One of the biggest challenges that Baumann put before his team was to start to believe that they could beat teams in the conference that they hadn’t beaten in years past, and this bore out with BVU’s wins over Dubuque and Loras.  

“I feel great. I feel like they rose to the challenge,” Baumann said.  He added that the mental fortitude of the team was among its most important strengths as the season went on. 

Junior Rachel Brockney recalled how intense it felt during the preseason. “Just trying to nail down form and the basics, since he was new to the program with us.”  

The beginning of the season was, Brockney noted, “a bit of a rough start [due to the] mental stuff that we had to overcome.”  

Senior Taylor Wedemeyer, a setter, also known as one of BVU’s most vocal players on the court, agreed with Brockney and Baumann that “there was quite a few ups and downs during the season.” However, Wedemeyer, Brockney, and Baumann all felt that there was a definite shift around the same time during the season.  

Home game wins over Dubuque and Loras the same weekend put the Beavers on a winning streak that would secure the team’s place in the conference tournament. The electric wins seemed to set a tone for the rest of the season for the Beavers.  

“I think it was the Nebraska Wesleyan game where our mindset began to match our skillset.“ said Baumann. “In the postseason, we had to play three teams that we had not beaten, and we played those games early in the season. I think we had a mindset shift.”  

Wedemeyer could also point to the shift in team attitude. For a while, she said she felt that the team was “going through the motions; it felt very lackadaisical. Then once we realized ‘we can beat these teams,’ it was kind of like the lightbulb turned on for us.”  

Brockney explained, “Coach Baumann started building competitive tension in our practices so that when we are down a couple points or when the other team starts attacking more aggressively, instead of shying away from that, we attack back.”

As the Beaver’s mindset began to shift in the latter half of the season, the results showed in their matches, particularly in the conference tournament. Their first conference tournament match was at home against Simpson, sweeping them 3 – 0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-12) to head to the semi-finals. After this commanding win, the Beavers traveled to play the No. 2 seeded Wartburg in an away match, pulling a 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18) win against the Knights, sending the Beavers to Coe College for the finals against the No. 1 seed in the tournament. It was this game against Coe that brought the Beaver’s season to an end in the final game of the American Rivers Conference 2022 Volleyball tournament. Coe defeated the Beavers 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-14, 25-12) and allowed the team to take a moment to regroup and begin looking at the future of the program.  

“I believe it raised their level of expectations,” Baumann said about the next season. “The culture we created through our work ethic and through a lot of different things is going to be carried over by those coming back with us and they’re going to teach the incoming freshman what it is that we do at BV volleyball and how we do it. They will be the torch bearers.”