5 minutes with… Volleyball’s senior class

By Mike Romor

Saturday marked volleyball’s final home match of the season.

The win over Toledo at Victor E. Court was the last time Sarah Angelos, Tori Halbur, Justine Schepler and Kayla Zeno had the chance to represent the Huskies in front of the NIU community.

After an emotional win on Senior Night, the seniors made time to speak with the Northern Star.

Northern Star: What were your emotions heading into this match?

Sarah Angelos: Heading into it, we all were a little bit sad about it being our last match here, but we really wanted to get the win for our team and get momentum going into the MAC Tournament. I think getting the ‘W’ was the most important thing, but it was a big game for all of us.

Kayla Zeno: If you’re going to go out, you may as well go out like that.

NS: Was there any chance you guys were going to lose this match?

SA: I mean, Toledo’s a really good team, but we stayed focused and stayed confident and calm the whole time. I think we did a good job of keeping everyone else calm the whole time, too, because we wanted to get that win.

KZ: Playing for each other is what got us through. I think we could have rode on emotions, could have been upset when we were down, especially in that last game when we were down 20-17. We could have beat ourselves up and went into ourselves and became individuals, but playing for each other and knowing that this was an important night and an important match for us helped us out.

Justine Schepler: The biggest thing is that we wanted to win. We wanted to win for the team; we didn’t want it to be about just us. The circumstances outweighed the emotion.

NS: When did it really sink in that tonight was your last go on Victor E. Court?

Tori Halbur: When I walked out with my parents. That was it for me.

JS: I don’t think it has for me.

SA: I kept it together until I walked out with my parents. That’s when I started crying.

KZ: When I was [awaiting the introduction] I just couldn’t look at anybody… I was like, ‘Mom, don’t look at me, don’t touch me.’ Everything was getting nostalgic. I was getting flashbacks and everything. I don’t know if it’s fully sunk in yet that I’m never going to play here again outside of practice.

NS: How would you describe the four years you have spent here?

KZ: I don’t think you can describe it. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to be a Div. I college athlete and to play with your best friends. I’m so glad the team is so close, and I’m definitely a changed person because of these girls and the experience of the past four years.

NS: Between the bonds among you guys and the alumni always coming back, how close is the team? [Head coach] Ray [Gooden] called it a “family.” Is that accurate?

TH: Spot on. Even the alumni are still part of our family. People that are coming in, we’re still having pre-game meals with them.

NS: Have you thought about how hard it will be to walk away from the program after the tournament?

JS: A little bit; it’s kind of depressing, though. I think we’re all going to be great people and it’s because of volleyball. The experiences we’ve had here are going to make us who we are, and we will be successful from it.

KZ: And we’ll be back. We’ll be back and watching and cheering and wishing we were on the court. We’ll be heckling. We’ll be the best hecklers.