West Texas A&M senior captain will lead the Lady Buffs to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Tournament starting Thursday in Tampa, Fla. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
When West Texas A&M opens play at the NCAA Division II Elite Eight volleyball championship in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday it will be the final hurrah for one of the best to ever wear a Lady Buff uniform.
Fifth-year senior and Hereford graduate Chandler Vogel will step on the floor hoping to stamp her illustrious career as a national champion.
“I can’t think of a better way to go out,” Vogel said. “Winning a national championship is the ultimate goal. But to to play all the way to the final week of my senior year is incredible. I made it to the last weight session of my career on Monday. I’m spending the last week with my best friends and teammates. All the time, all the work put in, getting to finish at the Elite Eight as a senior makes it all worth it.”
Vogel has been the heart and soul of the Lady Buffs program the past five seasons, and is so dedicated to the volleyball program, she even opted to return as a super senior thanks to an optioned COVID year last spring.
Something that’s not lost on third-year head coach, Kendra Potts.
“Chandler choosing to stay after last year was so big for us,” Potts said. “Chandler could have gone on and had a full-time job, and started her life. But she chose us. I think she plays volleyball now a different way because she’s grateful for the opportunity, but she knows there has been a lot of sacrifice.
“What she does for us on and off the court can’t be put into words. She’s the glue. She supports everyone on the team, and makes sure everyone is feeling good. She does everything behind the scenes.”
Coming out of Hereford in 2017 as a first-team All-District selection, Vogel picked up where she left off in college with her gritty play and fiery determination.
Vogel will go down in the record books as one of best liberos to take the court for the Lady Buffs. Vogel was named as a 2021 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II All-American on Tuesday.
Chandler Vogel will play in her 143rd career match when the Lady Buffs face Washburn in an Elite Eight national quarterfinal matchup at 11 a.m. Thursday. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
She was also named the Lone Star Conference’s Libero of the Year once again this season becoming the first player in LSC history to earn any individual award four consecutive years. With her 78 digs from the regional tournament, the senior has now totaled 2,659 career digs which is the all-time school record at WT, and ranks third for current active Division II players.
“I set my goals high when I got here to WT,” Vogel said. “I wanted to break records, and I wanted to be an All-American. I knew this program had the potential to be successful as it had been in the past. I’m just glad it is coming true.”
Potts echoed Vogel’s comment.
“Chandler was here before I got here,” Potts said. “She didn’t chose me. But she allowed me to coach her and she’s incredible player and better person. She brings joy to so many people. She makes the connection with her easy, and she made the transition an easy one. We wouldn’t be where we are without her.“
Vogel will play in her 143rd career match when the Lady Buffs (26-4) open the Elite Eight quarterfinal matchup at 11 a.m. against Washburn (29-5) on Thursday morning at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center on the campus of the University of Tampa.
Despite all the years in the gym, all the practices, the workouts, and all the games, Vogel will always be thankful she chose West Texas A&M as her school. She was recently engaged following a Senior Day win against Dallas Baptist to her fiancé, and former WT pitcher Dominic Yearego. It’s moments like that Vogel will always think back on.
“My time at WT has been unbelievable,” Vogel said. “I met my fiancé here, I’ve met my best friends here at WT, and I’ve gotten to play volleyball for a tremendous program. It was amazing how one decision has made my life this great. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. This is also my first Elite Eight experience. I’m just so grateful to WT and this program for giving me every opportunity to be where I am today”