When it comes to what men’s volleyball senior William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) brings to his game, Coach Danielle Lickey has two words: “A lot of fire and passion.”
That passion could easily be seen in Ragland’s performance during last week’s CVC Tournament, at which he earned EMU’s lone spot on the All-Tournament Team. He broke his career high with 27 kills in Tuesday’s historic upset of Juniata on the road, including the final point of the night.
Ragland again led EMU in the CVC Semifinals, putting down nine kills against eventual champion Kean. He racked up 36 kills and 14 digs in Eastern Mennonite’s two matches in the tournament.
Despite his outstanding performance, Ragland was pleasantly surprised when he broke his career record.
“Breaking my personal kill record was pretty cool. I definitely didn’t think I had that many during the match. I was just trying to help my team as best I could,” he said.
Unfortunately, despite Ragland’s best efforts, the Royals were not able to make it back to the championship match.
“Overall the tournament was not what we had hoped for,” he said. “We really wanted to return to the championship and get another shot at the title, but in the end we just couldn’t make it happen.”
While the Royals may not have made it to the title match, Lickey said, Ragland’s performance in the CVC Tournament, and, really, since January, has been his best yet.
“Throughout the season, he has shown time and again the talent and ability he has in the game,” she said. “He is top 10 in the conference at pretty much everything. But during the conference tournament, he took his skill to the next level. He earned 27 kills in the match against Juniata and was a go-to player to get things done throughout those sets. He also came alive during the last set of the Kean match.”
Ragland credits his success in his final season due to preseason tournaments he played in, and the team’s new coach.
“She kicked our butts in workouts and got us into decent shape,” he said.
However, success for Ragland and the team brought a new set of challenges, one of which was simply recognition as a team to be reckoned with.
“Last year we weren’t exactly the top dog and other teams didn’t really focus too much on our matches allowing us to get some of those big wins,” Ragland said. “This year people had us circled on their schedule and prepared a lot more for us, and I think that overall that hurt us a lot more.”
A business administration major and music minor, Ragland hopes to extend his career after graduation by playing volleyball overseas before beginning his non-athletic career. However, his time playing for EMU will be one that he will always carry with him no matter what volleyball court in the world he is playing on, he said.
“My greatest memory coming away from EMU is the bus ride back from Vassar, when we found out that SVU lost and we would have another shot at a conference tournament run,” he said.
Lickey laments the loss of Ragland at the end of the season, as it will be difficult to find someone who has the same level of passion for the game.
“He was given more opportunity to perform and he stepped up,” she said. “He loves the game and has a passion for playing at a high level. He also brings a level of expectation and accountability to the team, expecting as much as he gives from each of his teammates. He offensively is a powerhouse, and also plays a well-rounded game at a very high level. This is demonstrated with him in the top ten in the conference for blocks, digs, attacks, and aces. The team will miss Will both on and off the court next year.”