Volleyball bounces back from rough opening weekend

Setter Madie Hudac, ’14, is one of the 11 new faces on the volleyball team this year, whose development is essential to the team’s success this season. Photo by Ed Mailliard/alleghenysports.com

Although they struggled this past weekend during their first tournament at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where they lost all four matches, the women’s volleyball team has great optimism and hope for the future. Coach Bridget Sheehan stressed the youth of the team, which boasts 11 freshmen on a 17-woman squad.

With the help of returning standout outside hitter Jordan Leopold, ’11, along with Winnie Wong, ’12, and Caitlin Rothman, ’12, the team hopes to groom the freshmen and help them prepare to compete on the college level.

“Our offense is evolving,” Sheehan said. “Our defense is evolving. They’re doing everything they can.”

In spite of their youth, the team recognizes several undeniable advantages to the abundance of new faces.

“The advantage of being a young team is that we’re underdogs,” said Leopold, who earned an NCAC All-Conference Honorable Mention last season. “People aren’t expecting anything from us, but I can guarantee we are going to surprise them.”

Nevertheless, she realizes the difficulties ahead.

“The disadvantage is that we’ve got to get people on the same page quickly,” Leopold said. “The college game is a lot faster than the freshmen are used to.”

Aiming to improve their play on the court, the team acknowledges that they need to come together off the court as well.

“Some of my personal goals are to have a winning season and to play my game and give the most effort I can possibly muster,” Wong said. “I also want to have a volleyball team that I can call my family at the end of the season, which I think would be the best part.”

While court play is important, the relationship between teammates off the court seems to be of the utmost importance to this tight-knit group.

Already improving, the team won their first match against Penn State Behrend Tuesday 3–1. Leopold led the team with 15 kills, nearly reaching her season high, while the other outside hitter, Audra Batdorff, ‘12, had 13 kills. On the defensive end, Saige Foster, ’14, contributed nine blocks while Wong added a team leading 16 digs.

“It was a solid win with passion, enthusiasm and heart,” said Wong. “We are a team growing with each game.”

Looking ahead, the team shows nothing but optimism about their future.

“We have a team of competitive, hungry players who want to win and play,” said Rothman. “There are going to be ups and downs and a lot of learning going on, but we have a huge amount of potential to be a great team.”

With a victory in hand, the team will travel again this weekend to participate in the Dickinson Invitational Tournament which will take place on September 10th and 11th. They will face Bridgewater at 4 p.m. and will take on St. Vincent at 8 p.m Friday.