Athlete spotlight: Hannah Tong

Tong leads Oiler Volleyball to success

By Alyssa Grevenkamp

Winning their last eight straight games and posting a record of 14-3 on the season, the University of Findlay’s women’s volleyball team is on a tear this season. The team has a lot of outstanding players, but one player has been consistently on the top of the stat sheet for a while.

That player is junior outside hitter Hannah Tong.

“Stats are a good representation of how well we’re doing or not doing,” said Head Coach Wick Colchagoff. “Hannah’s stats show how well she’s been doing this year and they also reflect how we’ve been doing as a team. Hitting statistics correlate most with winning.”

Tong is second in the GLIAC for kills and kills per set. Colchagoff said that the reason Tong is not first in those categories is because Allie Cudworth, an outside hitter for Ashland, gets set more often than Tong does.

Colchagoff also said that because the Oilers have a number of great hitters on the team, Tong doesn’t get set as much as players on other teams do.

Tong said that it’s not just her leading in the stat column this year. Some of her teammates are at the top with her.

“It is definitely a team effort. We have a lot of girls on this team who are leading in stats, which proves how successful our season has been so far,” said Tong.

Some of the other leaders in the stat column for the Oilers are Julie Lyons, Andrea Roach, and Nickyla Garverick.

Although most people only get to see Tong perform on game days, Colchagoff is one of the few that gets a chance to see what she’s like at practices.

“She is very unique,” said Colchagoff. “Hannah adds to the team chemistry because she likes to joke around and have fun. She also gets along with everyone pretty well. She knows how to be intense, but have fun as well and that’s very important in volleyball.”

Before Tong became one of the teams go-to players, she first had to choose to become an Oiler.

When Tong was in high school, she was a three-sport athlete playing volleyball, basketball, and softball.

“I knew I wanted to play volleyball in college ever since my freshman year in high school. One of the reasons I chose Findlay was because it was super close to home. The other schools I was looking at were over three hours away and I would have probably gotten homesick,” said Tong.

If she was three hours away, she wouldn’t have her own fan section either.

“I like how close Findlay is to home. It’s so nice to see all the Carey people that come to the games. I literally have my own fan section at the home games,” said Tong.

When Tong stepped onto campus her freshman year, she wasn’t the woman everyone knows today.

“Hannah didn’t play much her freshman year. She got into rotations every once in a while, but she wasn’t a starter. Last year and this year, she has been a starter and has grown into her role. She’s more versatile now than she was as a freshman. She is playing more in serve and serve receive than she has in previous years,” said Colchagoff.

This year, Tong is almost always leading the Oilers in the hit column. She is always leaving a mark no matter what game it is. Colchagoff said that because of her athleticism, she is growing as a player every game.

“She has exceeded our expectations for sure,” said Colchagoff. “She has grown and has gotten a lot stronger as a hitter. Coach Wagner does a great job with them and the work in the weight room has paid off for her.”

Since she’s played sports for many years, Tong was bound to have some superstitions.

“I do have some superstitions. I always have to wear the same head band for every game. I also have to get my leg taped by the greatest athletic trainer in the world, Fiona,” said Tong.

Over the years, Hannah has had some big dreams. One of them not many people know about, until now.

“When I was little, I wanted to be a WNBA basketball player,” said Tong.

Dreams can always come true, right?

One of the great things about being a college athlete is you get to travel and see places you’ve never seen before. Some of Hannah’s favorite memories revolve around traveling with the team.

“My favorite memories have been all the opportunities that we have gotten to travel. My freshman year we went to Florida. Sophomore year we went to Missouri and then in the summer we went to Costa Rica. This year, we opened our season up in Colorado. It has been great,” said Tong.

At the end of the day, Tong’s players and coaches say she is a humble volleyball player who does her part to help make her team successful.

“I feel like I have made an impact on the team just as everyone else has, too. We each play our own role to contribute to the team’s success,” said Tong.

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