The common wisdom is to go out with a bang. So, it was fitting that the Orediggers went out with a proverbial dynamite blast on Senior Night.
The Colorado School of Mines volleyball team capped off its 2023 season with a Nov. 11 against Western Colorado. The Orediggers blew away the Mountaineers in three sets, ending their season 14-12 overall and 7-7 in conference play.
Although they were edged out of the postseason tournament bracket, the Orediggers spent their final match of 2023 celebrating their six departing seniors for all their hard work over the last four or five years.
“I’m proud of my team,” senior middle blocker Emily Knight said. “We had a great weekend. We played hard and ended the season where we wanted. It was fun.”
The night before, Mines took down Fort Lewis in three sets, taking that momentum into the Nov. 11 Senior Night match.
While the first set was close, with the Orediggers only edging out the Mountaineers 25-23, the home team had a greater command of the court the rest of the match. Mines won the second set 25-15, and the third set 25-16.
The six seniors had big numbers in their final collegiate match.
Knight led the team with 11 kills, as well as five blocks and two digs. Shannon Perna had 10 kills, one block and five digs, and Rose Stuewe had eight kills.
Outside hitter Madison Glassco — who had eight kills, four blocks and nine digs on the night — said it was “really nice to see our team stay together through the ups and downs” of the match and the season. While the Orediggers had a “wavy season,” as she described it, Glassco was happy to see everyone work together to end it the way they did.
Both Glassco and Knight said playing their final match was surreal. Knight added that she was a bit nervous beforehand, which she hadn’t expected. But, she enjoyed being on the court and playing with her fellow seniors one last time.
“They have been with me through hell and back,” Knight said of her fellow seniors. “I’m proud of them for sticking by and continuing to push through all of it. And I’m excited for their future and what it holds.”
Love for the game; love for each other
Knight, who’s originally from Brooten, Minnesota, is a fifth-year senior who transferred to Mines in fall 2021. She played for Minnesota-based Ridgewater College in 2019 and then transferred to Iowa Western Community College in 2020-21.
She will graduate from Mines this spring with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and she’s hoping to find a job around Denver.
Even though she was a transfer student, she meshed well with her classmates on the team, saying the group spends a lot of time together off the court. She described how all the seniors have “a very unique sense of humor,” and they enjoy keeping things “light and fun” and bouncing jokes off each other.
Glassco said her senior class was defined by its grit, as the group’s been through a lot together.
The New Braunfels, Texas native recalled when she and three other classmates started at Mines in fall 2020. There was no fall volleyball, as the students were navigating COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines. Then, the team played a spring season against conference opponents. The players had to wear masks on the court, and there was no postseason, she said.
“It was a lot of fun, but it was not normal by any means,” Glassco continued. “It was definitely a weird start to college, especially college athletics. … I’m glad we went through it together.”
Despite all the challenges both on and off the court, Glassco said she was going to miss playing volleyball at Mines. After she graduates this spring, she’s taking a project management job at a Thornton-based mechanical construction company.
“It’s not easy by any means being a student-athlete here,” Glassco said. “I’ve grown so much and I’ve seen my classmates grow so much in the last four years. I’m just so excited to see what we all do in the real world.”
Their final collegiate match means not only saying goodbye to each other but to the sport of volleyball to a certain extent.
Glassco said it’s been a huge part of her life since about third grade, and it’s taken up so much of her daily routine that she doesn’t know exactly what she’ll do without it.
“To get to this level, obviously you have to love it,” she said of volleyball. “To have that part of my life be over … is going to be weird for a while, I’m sure.”
Knight, meanwhile, didn’t start playing until around eighth grade. She said she wasn’t very good at other sports but found her passion in volleyball. Through it, she learned about hard work, determination and how to ask for help.
“It’s the game that taught me about life the most,” Knight continued. “I’m super-grateful for the experience I’ve had. The things it’s taught are priceless.”
Click through additional photos from the Nov. 11 Senior Night match here: