Last season the women’s Volleyball team finished at 6 and 28. A season that has long been forgotten.

Taking last season’s outcome into consideration, it is all the more difficult to neglect the fact that less than half way through September the team has already racked up four wins, while marking only two in the “L” column. When you realize that they have done this without two of last year’s key players, Rachel Billings and Megan Harvey, both of whom graduated, their record begins to look all the more impressive and in some way puzzling. How has the team made such a dramatic turnaround?

One critical difference is that this is a younger team, with six freshman and five sophomores. The roles of Billings and Harvey have been filled capably by middle hitter, 6’1″ tall freshman Kate Czarniak and fellow freshmen, finishers Julie Mihalek and Haley Massa. “Haley hits the ball hard,” coach Dawn Kelly said, “and Julie is a solid all around player.”

Another important change from last year is the addition of the libero position, which is a player who is always on the back line. This has and will continue to help the team with their passing, an aspect of the game that was of some cause for concern last year. Freshman Adrienne Monley is expected to start at libero. Monley has gained valuable experience at this position playing club ball at the Brandywine Volleyball Club.

Some of the sophmore players have taken their game to a new players have taken their game to a new level ? no small factor in the team’s four victories. Among them are Kristin Vogt and Grace Kraay. In the season opener against D’Youville Vogt had twelve kills and hit .846, while leading a Yellowjackets’ charge during which they hit for a season best .500. Kraay added six important kills.

The team is hoping that their early success will be indicative of the rest of the season. The players’ goals are to have a winning season and finish in the top half of the conference. “This is such a young team and it’s going to be tough, but there is so much talent that this year and next year you’ll see a huge improvement,” Vogt said. “I love the addition of the libero,” she added, “I think it’s awesome.”

Coach Kelly summed up her expectations by listing the NY State tournament, the NCAA tournament and the ECAC as her three post-season options. “I’m excited for the team this year,” coach Kelly said, “We are going to surprise people.”

Bavli can be reached at mbavli@campustimes.org.



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