point celebration syracuse

Dec. 4, 2017; The WVU volleyball team celebrates a point against Syracuse

At the end of the 2015 season, the West Virginia University volleyball team was at an all-time low.

A season after head coach Jill Kramer bolted Morgantown to take the TCU job, the Mountaineers finished with a record of 6-23, their worst record since the inaugural 1974 season.

Reed Sunahara, the first year head coach, came in on a rebuilding mission, but this was not new to him.

He coached Cincinnati between 2000 and 2011, bringing the Bearcats to eight NCAA Tournaments.

Two seasons after that 2015 low point, Sunahara has the Mountaineers on the winning track, clinching their best season and first postseason appearance since 1991.

WVU finished 2017 with a 21-13 record (which included an upset of No. 14 Kansas) and made it all the way to the semifinals of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

Sunahara says they're ready for more.

"These (girls) are hungry," Sunahara said. "They set that goal from day one that they wanted to be in the postseason. They had no idea about the NIVC, because it came kind of later on. Their goal was to make the NCAA Tournament. We fell short, but this postseason's good for us."

Sophomore outside hitter Payton Caffrey mentioned that program building is one of the reasons for her choice to come to WVU over the College of Charleston.

"I'm the kind of player who can go to a program like here who has struggled in the past and know that I can be a part to help," Caffrey said. "So I did know the struggle that they had."

"I might not be a part of that team that makes it to the final rounds (of the NCAA Tournament) and wins a national championship, but I think that the class that I'm in now, with the girls that we have, I think that we're going to be able to leave behind the legacy that kind of sets the standards for the program."

With high efficiency players like Caffrey, Natania Levak and Briana Lynch returning in 2018, it seems West Virginia is poised to make their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Sports Editor

In addition to being a sports writer for the DA, John is a freelance reporter for the Associated Press and the Dominion Post. John is also a writer and editor at the Smoking Musket (WVU's SB Nation community).