Victoria Love doesn’t hesitate to say where she’d be if it weren’t for a new-found motivation to continue her education and volleyball career at The Evergreen State College.
“Still at Hartnell (College in Salinas, Calif.) and still working two jobs,” said Love, the Geoducks’ junior right-side hitter.
The California native is still getting acclimated to new surroundings in Olympia after some big changes. She’s living in a new state, attending a four-year institution 850 miles from her hometown of Seaside, Calif., and playing volleyball for the first time in two seasons.
“It’s been amazing,” Love said. “It’s a whole new world here.”
And while Love has been on the Evergreen campus for only two months, she’s already
made an impact on the Geoducks’ volleyball program.
On Sept. 27 in Evergreen’s five-set loss to Corban (Ore.), Love set a school record with 37 kills on 81 swings, smashing the old records of 29 kills — set by Meredith Lane in 2003 — and 76 attempts set a year ago by teammate Cassidy Watkins against Lewis & Clark.
Thirty or more kills in a match is a rarity. Comparatively, it’s like a basketball player scoring 50 points in a basketball game.
Watkins, a redshirt senior outside hitter, said few realized the magnitude of Love’s record-setting numbers until they saw game film days later.
“She’s a beast up there,” Watkins said. “If there’s a hole, she hits through it. If there’s not a hole, she just hits over it.”
Love’s presence helped the Geoducks snap a 51-match losing skid dating back to 2010 with a win over Montana Western on Aug. 24.
Evergreen (2-11) continues the second half of its Cascade Collegiate Conference schedule this week, hosting No. 11 Eastern Oregon on Friday and College of Idaho on Saturday at the newly renamed Costantino Recreation Center.
At 6-foot-1, Love had played only middle blocker until this year. Evergreen coach Angela Spoja moved Love to right-side hitter eight matches in against then-No. 16 Eastern Oregon.
Spoja, the Geoducks’ first-year coach, figured that the left-handed Love provided a big block at the net for a team’s opposing outside hitter. In volleyball, a team’s outside hitter is the most dominant hitter.
“We need the block and we need the hit,” Spoja said.
Love’s performance is even more impressive considering she’s just getting back into the life of a student-athlete after a two-year hiatus.
She played two seasons (2010-11) at Hartnell College, but her academic standing prevented her from transferring to a four-year school. She said she lost motivation, which in turn sent her grade-point average into a downward spiral.
Love remained at Hartnell as a full-time student in an attempt to get her academics turned around. She assumed she was done playing volleyball.
“I messed up opportunities,” said Love, who is studying art at Evergreen. “I could’ve gone to (Division II) schools or (Division I) schools, but I messed up. I learned my lesson after that. That’s in my head a lot, too. I can’t be like a few years back.”
Teammate Kameo Dela Cuadra was Love’s teammate at Hartnell, and that jump-started Love’s connection to Evergreen. Spoja, hired in the spring after a successful eight-year run at Tacoma Community College, didn’t recruit Love. She called landing the 21-year-old “lucky.”
Love is still brushing off some rust, Spoja said; she expects there’s more to Love’s game, including playing back row and serving for the first time.
“This time next year,” Spoja said, “you’re going to see even more from her.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/ south-sound-sports-blog @megwochnick