Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – After splitting the opening weekend of Northwest Conference play, the Pacific Lutheran University volleyball team takes its first conference road trip of the year, playing Linfield College on Friday night at 7 p.m. then heading to Lewis & Clark College on Saturday for a game at 5 p.m.
In volleyball, the libero is a defensive specialist with a special list of rules to create more digs and rallies. The rule was added to international play in 1998 and made its NCAA debut in 2002 in an effort to make the game more exciting. As a sophomore, Caylie Shiramizu was named the Northwest Conference Libero of the Year, earning First Team All-NWC honors in the process. For the Lutes, Shiramizu is special.
"I enjoy playing this position because I think that it's the right fit for me since I'm not very tall and my passion is playing defense," Shiramizu said. "It's such a great feeling to get as many digs as I can per game and diving on the floor to save or get a ball."
Now a junior, the Honolulu, Hawaii native was led to PLU (7-3, 1-1 NWC) because she was attracted to the environment and community the university has to offer. Her admissions counselor, coaches, and teammates were all welcoming to her, making the transition easy.
Shiramizu has aspirations to become an athletic trainer. Those aspirations started with a high ankle sprain she suffered during her junior year of high school. The athletic trainers had a positive impact on an impressionable Shiramizu, creating a desire for her to do the same for others.
"I know what it feels like to have an injury and not be able to play the sport that you love, Shiramizu explained. "My passion is to have the ability to help others and be able to do rehab techniques for them to go back and play the sport that they enjoy the most."
On the court, Shiramizu is continuing where she left off last season. Through the opening three weeks of the season Shiramizu has twice been named NWC Defensive Player of the Week while ranking second in the NWC in digs per set (5.50). Shiramizu and the rest of the Lutes continue their quest for a Northwest Conference title this weekend down in Oregon.
Sept. 22: PLU at Linfield in Ted Wilson Gymnasium (7 p.m.)
Series History: PLU holds a 47-40 record over Linfield, with a run of dominance during the late 2000's and into the early 2010's. From 2007-2013, the Lutes won 14 consecutive meetings against the Wildcats and have won 19 of the last 21 overall. The two teams split the season series in 2016 with PLU winning 3-1 inside Olson Gymnasium and Linfield prevailing 3-2 on its home court.
About the Wildcats: Linfield (8-1, 2-0 NWC) is off to a hot start, winning eight of its first nine games and owning a 4-0 record on its home court. Last weekend, they swept Willamette University 3-0 and beat Lewis & Clark 3-1. Linfield's lone setback of the season was a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Sept. 9 in the final match of the Macalester Invitational in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
A few Wildcats can be found atop the Northwest Conference leaderboards. Kayla Magbaleta is tied for fourth in the NWC in digs with 158 on the young season while Destyni Grace leads the conference in service aces per set (0.80). Eryka Keoho is the Wildcats' biggest offensive weapon, leading the team in kills with 96.
Sept 23: PLU at Lewis & Clark in Pumplin Athletic Center (5 p.m.)
Series History: PLU has dominanted the all-time series, owning a 53-31 record against Lewis & Clark. The Lutes have been on a roll against the Pioneers, winning nine of the last 10 meetings between the universities, including 3-0 and 3-1 victories last season.
About the Pioneers: Lewis & Clark (1-8, 0-2 NWC) is off to a rocky start, winning just one of its first nine games this season. The Pios defeated Schreiner University 3-0 at the Oregon Trail Classic on Sept. 2 but have since dropped six straight, including a pair of 3-1 defeats against conference mates George Fox University and Linfield. Kortney Meyer is the go to player for the Pioneers offensively, leading the team with 3.1 kills/set. Emma Contreras is second on the team in kills (2.8/set) and digs (2.2/set) while pacing the team in service aces with 14 on the season. Anika San Nicolas has the most digs with 134 on the season, averaging 4.1 per set.