For the last three years playing volleyball in Madison, Wisconsin was everything Grace Loberg dreamed it would be when the two-sport standout from Geneva picked the Badgers over numerous Division I offers.
A 2019 All-Big Ten selection who also made AVCA honorable mention All-American, the powerful 6-foot-3 outside hitter enters her senior season with 762 kills. She’s also excelled in the classroom, a 2018 and 2019 academic All-Big Ten choice and a 2018-19 Big Ten distinguished scholar.
And then, as Loberg put it, corona took over the world.
Wisconsin volleyball, along with the rest of fall sports in the Big Ten, became another causality to the COVID-19 pandemic this week when the conference announced those sports would be shifted to a spring season.
“Our coaches and athletic department, I know their No. 1 priority is our safety and our health and I respect that and respect the Big Ten for putting that at the forefront of a decision,” Loberg said.
While disappointing, the news didn’t come as a surprise.
“I feel as a team we have been expecting it,” Loberg said. “In preseason we were excited to all be playing together again but we knew the chances of us actually getting through preseason and a fall season were very slim. To hear the news for the first time that it actually was canceled was super sad but once it set in I feel I was relieved to know there was a more concrete answer and put all my focus to spring.”
Loberg had been in Madison since June training with her teammates, doing everything they can to have a season. Players were tested once a week when they came back and later twice a week.
“I think Wisconsin had it down to a tee, the process,” Loberg said. “I feel our team had very prominent rules, we had a bubble kind of like the NBA. I feel as a team we were doing everything we could to control the situation but there’s so many uncontrollables.”
Loberg will train with her team this fall but said all her classes are online. There’s just a handful of classes on campus with labs that students learn in-person.
There’s no specifics yet on what a spring season will look like, and Loberg said if it is also canceled she will be back in the fall of 2021 for her senior year.
“I love it here,” said Loberg, whose mom Colleen played at Indiana and whose sister Anna is a senior at Geneva whose season also is now in the spring. “I would be more than thrilled to be here another year.
“Right now it’s a big hope for us to play in the spring. I feel a lot is going to depend if the football season can go in the spring. I am not too concerned when the season is if it’s in the spring or next fall, I just want to be able to play a full season.”