Viterbo Volleyball Finishes Record-Breaking Season
Pictured: Abby Brietung in action. Brietung is a freshman from Tomah.
The V-Hawk volleyball team has come a long way in two years under Coach Ryan DeLong. From a 7–27 record in the year before DeLong’s arrival and a 14–21 mark in his initial season, the team broke through this year with the best season by a Viterbo volleyball team in 16 years. The V-Hawks finished with a 30–15 record that included a number of milestones, a spot in the NAIA Region VII playoffs, and enough memorable moments to ensure that this team is remembered at Viterbo for years to come.
After an 8–8 start that included an early season trip to California, the V-Hawks ran off nine straight wins, their longest win streak since 1995. The team also snapped Iowa Wesleyan’s 21-match Midwest Classic Conference (MCC) win streak, finished with its best conference record (6–1) since 1990, hosted its first MCC tournament games ever, and advanced to the regional playoffs for the first time since the 1990 team advanced to the postseason. The V-Hawks’ 30 wins were the most by a Viterbo volleyball team since the 1990 team won 32 matches.
Along with the vault in team success came a number of individual honors as well. Seniors Stef Hemauer, Andrea Hughes, and Chelsea Muckenhirn and junior Tiaré Hurst all received First-Team MCC awards. Junior Alicia Hynek received honorable mention all-conference honors, and Hemauer was also named MCC Libero of the Year.
Hughes, Muckenhirn, and Micaela Bjerke also made their mark in the school record books. In a midseason match against Upper Iowa, Hughes broke the school record for blocks, surpassing the old mark of 402 set by Terri Wiesner, who played from 1987–89. In that same match, Muckenhirn broke the school record of 455 games played, a mark formerly held by Carly Chenoweth, who played for the V-Hawks from 2002–05. Bjerke also broke one of Chenoweth’s records. With 1,016 assists, Bjerke set the new single-season record for assists.
The season was also particularly noteworthy for four seniors who saw the program go from more than 30 losses in their freshman year to 30 wins in their senior year. Hemauer, Hughes, Muckenhirn, and Allie Loomis all were there when the team struggled mightily and also played a huge role in the program’s turnaround.