August 27 — Ali Tauchen didn’t need a lot of conviction.
With NCAA granting players an extra year of eligibility for COVID-19 relief, the Missouri Western volleyball senior had a decision to make; come back for a super senior season or dive into the real world.
In an effort to repeat what she did in her freshman year, while continuing her education before medical school, it didn’t take much thought.
“This program is like family to me,” said Tauchen, three-time All-MIAA selection from Iowa City, Iowa. “Leaving them and the thought of not finishing a real season with them was really sad.
“Now I can have a real season with them, finish and play with my best friends again.”
Like all fall 2020 student-athletes, Tauchen and her teammates found themselves without a season and waiting to see if a competition took place. The MIAA announced a spring season and an upcoming tournament at the end of the year, although it was ultimately a series of glorified scrimmages.
The 8-11 score and the MIAA tournament quarter-finals were unsatisfactory for the 2017 MIAA Rookie of the Year, who rose to All-MIAA First Team as a junior.
“Last year we were in this state of limbo all year round. It played with your head a bit,” Tauchen said. “You prepare for something, put all that effort in, and then it will be taken away from you. We’ve been working since last year. We’ve built this great team chemistry, and now we can show everyone what we’re doing. is made of. “
Tauchen returns with one ultimate goal: to help the Missouri Western return to the NCAA Division II tournament.
“His heart was still there,” said head coach Marian Carbin. “His heart wanted to get another playoff trip.”
After all, she is the only remaining player on the 2017 squad that won the MIAA tournament and advanced to the regional semi-finals.
“She’s such a great leader to follow, not just because she says the right things, but because she does the right things,” Carbin said. “This has been very important over the past four years as we tried to get back to the playoffs – she knew what it took to get there, but also her development to be the leader she had when she was in. first year.”
His freshman year, Tauchen was a key cog in a group of established players at the second, junior and senior levels.
She and Jenna Boland are now the only seniors in a squad that hasn’t played for two years and welcomes six newcomers, though a mesh spring has provided two weeks of fall training with confidence.
“Our chemistry, by building together, we didn’t get it until spring,” Boland said. “I feel like everyone works so much better together now.
“Everyone is playing very hard for each other. You want to win for your teammates all the time.”
And especially for Tauchen, she has a say in the end of her career.
“You can’t replace time, it always goes by,” Tauchen said. “We spent a whole year together playing, training, having fun and rediscovering our passion for volleyball.
Brandon Zenner can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZener.