UC Clermont volleyball set for winning season

Team eyes national championship and fan-filled games

The University of Cincinnati Clermont College women’s volleyball team is looking forward to a winning season, a national championship bid — and full stands.

The Cougars are anticipating an exciting return to the court after a truncated, irregular 2020 season of matches played in largely spectator-less gyms.

“We are excited for a more normal season and a chance to compete for a national championship again,” said Head Coach Josh Hamer. The team finished third in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association in 2019 and has a large cohort of returning players for the 2021 season. They will play Penn State Fayette, the defending national champs, three times during the regular season.

“We’ve worked on team culture for the last few years, and the squad is getting along well,” Hamer said. “The captains really own their roles; there is no drama. They players all hold each other accountable and love being together.”

Team captain and junior opposite hitter Alaina Smith (Oak Hills High School) echoed Hamer’s sentiments. “I’m excited to be back on the court and to have family and friends support us on the bleachers instead of watching on a screen,” Smith said. “I think this is the best group of girls I’ve been part of. No drama, no conflict. Everyone is here to work hard and put in the relentless effort we need to be successful.”

Fellow captain Hannah Holscher (Mother of Mercy High School), senior libero, agreed that the positive team dynamics have strengthened friendships among players and allowed the Cougars to consolidate around one unified goal.  

“A national championship. That’s what I want,” Holscher said. “We have a lot of returners, but the new girls fit right in too. Everyone gets along so well and is focused.”

For captain Zoe England (Glen Este High School), senior setter/hitter and 2019 USCAA Division II Team All-American, team and personal season goals are intertwined. “I’m excited to have fans this year; it changes the atmosphere. This was the best summer we’ve had. The team connected quickly on and off the court,” England said. “I want to be named All-American again, and I want to win nationals.”

Hamer said he looks to add more All-Americans and Academic All-Americans every year — in line with their broader team philosophy, which aims to be successful on the court and the classroom.  

“As a coaching staff, we stress that they are here first for their education, Hamer said. “Volleyball is just a nice bonus.”

See the Cougars in action during their first home game Sept. 8 against Rio Grande University at 6 p.m. Games are played in the Student Activities Center at UC Clermont College, 4200 Clermont College Drive, Batavia, Ohio. Matches are open to the public. For a full schedule and roster, visit https://ucclermont.edu/athletics/womensvolleyball.html.