The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Remembering a historic volleyball season despite PAC championship defeat

Chatham community shows support during historic women’s volleyball playoff run
Bethany College serves the ball against Chatham University in the PAC championship on Nov. 12.

A record-breaking year for Chatham University’s women’s volleyball team came to a heartbreaking conclusion at the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) championship.

For the first time in school history, Chatham University hosted a PAC championship game as the women’s volleyball team played Bethany College on Nov. 11. The women’s volleyball team also became the first team in Chatham history to be the top seed for the PAC playoffs.

The Athletic and Fitness Center (AFC) was standing room only as members from across the Chatham community donned their best beachwear in the spirit of the game’s theme. The student section — known as the Cougar Den — overflowed across the upper railing surrounding the court.

The energy in the AFC was unmatched to start the contest as both teams appeared to sense what was on the line. Bethany took Set 1, 25-17. The second set was not going the Cougars’ way either as they found themselves down 18-10, but the team rallied back, eventually holding a 25-24 lead. Chatham ended up losing Set 2, but the team refused to quit.

With their backs against the wall, Set 3 was won in dominating fashion by the Cougars, 25-16.

Set 4 went to the Bison, and Bethany was crowned as the 2023 PAC champions.

Looking back & planning ahead

Chatham women’s volleyball has taken massive strides forward in the past few years. When Joseph Bortak took over as the team’s head coach in 2018, the Cougars finished the PAC season at 2-13. Just five years later, they hosted the PAC championship as the top seed.

Bortak believes the team’s culture is the reason for the quick turnaround. He said that after this loss to Bethany, the team went around the locker room and talked about the family atmosphere that was created, and how important that was to each player.

“This team has seen some dark times,” Bortak said. “This loss stings, but ultimately [the team] relishes in the fact that they built what we have.”

Meghan Dominek ‘24 was the team’s libero and the program’s all-time leader with 1,882 digs.

“I’m just so proud of how far the program has come in general each year,” Dominek said.

The support from the Chatham community was so important for the team all season, especially in the playoffs.

The Cougar Den dresses in a beach theme for the women’s volleyball PAC championship game on Nov. 11. (Communiqué)

“We would never make it this far without the support that we have from the Cougar Den and all of our families,” Dominek said. “I think it’s amazing to just host and see the Chatham community really just rally around all of us.”

The Cougars had nine seniors on their roster: Delaney O’Shea, Jessica Taney, Lauren Gaston, Kylie Hawke, Meghan Dominek, Amelia Bogovich, Jessie Spoerndle, Sydney Schoenewald and Jena Williams.

“The passion that they have provided to us with the level of work will be missed there,” Bortak said. “There are some big shoes to fill, but we can’t thank them enough.”

The wait for more volleyball in the AFC won’t be long as the men’s volleyball team will have its first home game on Feb. 3 when it hosts Carlow University.

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About the Contributor
Carson Gates
Carson Gates, Editor in Chief
Carson Gates ’25 is a Communications major with a concentration in journalism. Carson is from the Buffalo, New York area, and chose Chatham University for its quiet and homey feel on campus, while also being smack dab in a major city. Carson is the editor-in-chief for the Communqiué, and when he writes, he writes primarily for the sports section but has been known to dabble in other areas as well. While being a writer, Carson is the host for the Communqiué podcast in the quad, the "Quadcast." Carson is also a goalie for Chatham's men's ice hockey team. Carson Gates can be reached best at [email protected] or via Instagram or Twitter @gatesy35.

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