The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Larrauri and Garcia Make Program History in 8th Season

The Drovers ended their season with an overall 10-19 record
Yaiza Larrauri throws up her hand in celebration during an away game this season.

The 2023 season was a fresh start for the USAO volleyball team. The team welcomed first-year head coach Isabel Almendarez, who is often referred to as Coach Bell, to the USAO volleyball program. Coach Bell guided the team through 29 matches, resulting in a record of 10-19 overall and a 6-14 record in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC). 

Overall, the Drovers had 1152 kills across the season, which was 195 more kills than the 2022-2023 season. They also scored 1462 points throughout this season, and that was 226 points more than the previous season as well. 

The team started off their season hot with a 3-0 record but saw themselves going back and forth in the win and loss column after that. Toward the end of the season, the Drovers struggled as they only won two of their last ten matches.  

Coach Bell talked about how the team had great talent, and how sometimes they performed well when playing. However, she said she felt the decisions that the players made during the season greatly affected the way the girls played on and off the court.  

“Some were happy with the season-ending how it did, but others were not. They felt that the team could have done much better,” Coach Bell said. 

One of the main goals for the Drovers next season is recruiting athletes who are actively finding ways to better themselves and their teammates. Coach Bell said there were issues with the players trying to coach each other versus encouraging and finding ways to help their teammates. She said she wants to inspire her team to become positive role models for each other and hopes that will lead to more success on the court next season.

She further explained what it means to be a “everyday champion” and why she wants that for her team. Coach Bell describes this as making it a priority to be at your best every day, you are always representing something, whether it’s yourself, your family, your school, or your country.  

One of the highs for this season included setting program history for the first time. Yaiza Larrauri, a junior defensive specialist, is the first player to earn the SAC Defensive Player of the Week for the Drovers. Larrauri also was honored with an SAC All-Conference 2nd Team award. Over the season, Larrauri had 415 digs with a career-high of 34 against Texas Wesleyan University (TWU), which is the game she received the SAC Defensive Player of the Week award. 

“We fight hard, but sometimes we fall short. We must minimize our errors. It’s about reflecting on what we did and what we need to do to win the next match,” Larrauri said. 

Another player who set program history for USAO this season is senior setter Madison Garcia. She earned 1000 career assists during her final season for the Drovers 

“I have always dreamed about reaching higher goals since my first year. I have wanted to get the 1000 career assists award. I don’t only strive for these goals myself but to set the standard for everyone else,” Garcia said. 

Garcia said she has always held high standards for herself and the team, as well as the program she has played for in her four-year career. Being from Hawaii, she talks about how Hawaiians need recognition for the hard work they put in every day. Garcia’s goals for the USAO volleyball program are to find people with positive energy on and off the court, to see players who are willing to work hard, and to break many more USAO school records. 

Another exciting player for the Drover’s team this season was junior outside hitter Victoria Southerland. Overall, her season stats include 284 overall kills. Southerland was recognized for her efforts throughout the season as she earned the Honorable Mention Selection in the SAC All-Conference awards.  

Southerland talked about how it was a big step up coming from a junior college where she got more playing time, which can be seen as she played in all 29 matches. Southerland is projected to become the next leader in her final season said Coach Bell, as she was not only recognized for her skills on the court but also as a team player with a strong head on her shoulders. 

This season’s team had four seniors who played their last season of volleyball. Those players were outside hitter/defensive specialist Yeishka Reyes, defensive specialist Soleil Trejo, setter Alisha Henderson, and Garcia. 


Riley O’Dell is a third-year speech-language pathology major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributors
Riley O'Dell, Contributing Writer
Riley is a third-year speech-language pathology major from Midwest City. She enjoys hanging out with friends and listening to music.
Laura Barrios Bardi
Laura Barrios Bardi, Contributing Photographer
Laura is a fourth-year art major from El Paso, TX. Laura currently works for USAO's Sports Information Department as a photographer. She is also a member of USAO's track and field team. Her hobbies include stargazing, spending time with friends, and working towards elevating her photography skills.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Photographer: Nov. 2022 - present