Claire Mountjoy has put together quite the resume throughout her Maverick career.
The program’s all-time digs leader with over 2,000, Mountjoy opted to return for a fifth season this fall. She said one of her biggest goals the past four years has been to simply work hard and leave a mark on the program in some way. The other is to make the NCAA Tournament. The chance to reach that goal was one of the biggest deciding factors in returning for an extra year.
“We’ve been close the last two years and I figured I wanted to come back for one more year to try and reach that goal,” Mountjoy said. “I feel like last year we really didn’t get to prove ourselves as a group in the conference tournament and it was also a strange season, so returning for another year gave all of us another chance to hopefully make a run.”
That group has gotten off to a strong start this fall, as the Mavericks are 2-0 in Summit League play heading into an intriguing matchup against Denver. Omaha sits at 5-7 overall. However, that number is a little misleading. Omaha’s non-conference schedule was amongst the toughest in the country this season, but Mountjoy and the Mavericks were up to the test.
They went toe-to-toe with multiple top-tier programs, including Nebraska, Creighton, Illinois, Arizona State and Georgia. It will only help them in Summit League play.
“It’s one of those things where you kind of forget about the name on the jersey and we just focus on playing at our highest level and the best that we can,” Mountjoy said. “We know we were close against teams like Nebraska and Illinois and we even beat Georgia, so we can take on any team and it doesn’t matter the name. I think it’s made us stronger both physically and mentally.”
Returning alongside Mountjoy are senior Sadie Limback and junior Sami Clarkson, who have spent the past four and three seasons together respectively. Viewed as the leaders on this team, the trio has played a big part in building up the programs’ culture in recent years and looks to do so again this season.
“We have a great connection with each other and you know how they are on and off the court, so it’s been really awesome to build relationships with them and the other players who have come back,” Mountjoy said. “It’s been easier for us as leaders to have the new players to join in the team culture too since we’re familiar with it already.”
With that familiarity, there’s a little bit of extra responsibility. Nicknamed the ‘Elder,’ Mountjoy said she embraces the leader and mentor role. In fact, it’s something she takes great pride in.
“I hear jokes all the time about being a super senior and still being here for a fifth year, but it’s great having that experience on and off the court,” she said. “I’ve been through all of the ups and downs, I’ve played with several different people and I feel like I can connect well with the younger players and give them guidance.
“I just want to leave my mark as a good leader for the program no matter what position I’m in or where we’re standing as a team and I mainly just want to set a good example.”