Coming off an incredible season for Colorado College volleyball, All-American Lizzy Counts ‘20 is looking to continue the great success she’s had in her two seasons as a Tiger. Her First Team All-American berth was the first such honor awarded to a sophomore volleyball player since 1990. Her 2,120 assists rank her fifth in Colorado College history; with two more seasons left, she has a chance to make it to number one.
Counts earned her honors after a historically great season for CC volleyball. During her sophomore season, she led the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference with an average of 10.19 assists per game and placing fourth with 54 service aces and an average of 0.45 aces per game. Counts spoke about her team’s importance to her own role: “As a setter, being an All-American really just means I’m on an excellent team,” she said. “I couldn’t get assists if my passers weren’t giving me good balls and my hitters weren’t terminating. My role as a setter is honestly that of a glorified middleman.”
Despite her humble comments, Counts’ impact on the team is clear. Her dynamic presence on the court proved invaluable, but she made it known that she has specific plans to improve.
“I can personally improve on forcing the ball to my middle hitters more and playing more consistently strong defense,” Counts said.
Led by their superstar, the Tigers set a program record last season with a .943 winning percentage, peaking at number one nationally. Their final record of 33—2 was impressive, but an early exit from the National Tournament leaves Counts and the Tigers hungry for more.
“Our goal is always to win the national championship,” Counts said. “With only one DIII loss last year to the eventual champions, we are focused on staying on that path. Every practice and every set is geared towards that goal.”
The Tigers are well-equipped to make a deep run in the tournament come season’s end. Five of six starters will return, and the team was ranked third in the pre-season American Volleyball Coaches Association coaches’ poll. Counts commented on what the high ranking means for the Tigers, who have finished their season higher in the final rankings than they were in the preseason for three of the past five seasons.
“We are really honored by the ranking, but we don’t let it get to our heads,” Counts said. “We understand that any team can come into the gym and compete with us on any given day and that’s the beauty of volleyball. It inspires us to work hard and prove that we deserve the ranking, if not higher.”
The team has a tough schedule ahead, with seven matches against top-25 opponents. “The team did a great job of fighting back through deficits last season,” Counts explained. “We dug ourselves into a few 0—2 set holes and pulled out those matches, so as long as we can continue that this season we are going to be very successful.”
The Tigers open their season with four matches at home this weekend, starting with a matchup against North Central College on Friday, Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. in the Reid Arena.