Columbia College Volleyball team receives shining gift

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COLUMBIA — Five months after the Columbia College volleyball team took home the 2015 NAIA Championship by defeating Missouri Baptist University in Sioux City, Iowa, the Cougars were honored with championship rings.

The rings were helped funded by Columbia College Board of Trustees.

"It just means a lot for them to be so generous," Coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. "For them to present us these rings, it means the world to the girls, and it's something we will hold on to forever."

Wrye-Washington credits the team's work ethic to make this dream of theirs become a reality.

"This group had a lot of opportunities to give it up this year, and they didn't. They chose to resist and find a way to win as a family."

For Junior Outside Hitter Sofija Ivanovic, the Cougars have been a family away from home. Ivanovic is from Serbia and credits the family environment for the team's success.

"They are my family, they're the only people I hang out with. My family is far away, and I don't know what I would do without my teammates."

It may be tough to top winning a championship, but Ivanovic and Wrye-Washington said the team still has room to improve.

"We need to work harder than this. We need to prove we are good champions," Ivanovic said.

"Our core is back and in tact for next year, we have some great recruits and transfers coming in, so we're hoping for another great showing."

Wrye-Washington also admired the work the seniors who will not be around next season did for the team.

"I've had a lot of teams throughout the years, and this one knew exactly how to win together as a team and never to give up, so I want to thank all of them."

Those seniors are not only leaving Columbia College as champions, but now have something to show off on their fingers.

Although the team is looking to get back to work, Ivanovic said she doesn't want this feeling to go away.

"It's been amazing, my emotions are everywhere. It has just been so nice."