Over the weekend, volleyball went 1-2 in their three-game, season-opening contests. The women traveled to Wesleyan to participate in the NESCAC/NEWMAC Challenge, falling 3-2 to the hosts in their season opener on Friday night. On Saturday, they clinched the season’s first victory against Coast Guard 3-0, but were defeated 3-0 by Wellesley in the second match of the day.
“This weekend was hard because we do have some injuries,” co-captain Riki McDermott ’09 said. “But we’re working on looking past that to just playing volleyball. It was a good weekend to build off of – our athleticism really showed through in the Coast Guard game.”
Head Coach Fran Vandermeer remains positive about the upcoming season. Her enthusiasm is well-placed, given that the Ephs lost only one senior from last year on a team that finished with a 28-8 record and captured the 2007 NESCAC title.
“When you can return 10 experienced, talented kids, it’s exciting,” Vandermeer said. “My guess is that every healthy kid will play a ton this year.”
Largely comprised of returning members, the team’s strengths lie not only in its cohesiveness, but also in the quality of the squad’s leadership. The team is co-captained by McDermott and Chelsea Kubal ’10. Vandermeer noted that the two will complement each other very well as captains and teammates.
“There is a fun and focused atmosphere here,” Vandermeer said, “with an entire team full of leaders ready to make each other better.”
Currently, the team’s top priorities are getting and staying as healthy as possible. According to Vandermeer, the team has already exhibited a marked improvement from last season, and the players are very committed to playing strong defense.
“We have everything we need to go really far this year. We just have to work on executing,” Kubal said. “The team’s really a unit this year. Regardless of age or class, everyone’s working together towards a common goal and doing a great job putting the team first.”
There are several rule changes this year in the NESCAC for volleyball. Whereas the terminology used to run as “the best of five games,” it will now officially be “the best of five sets,” and rather than 30 point games, teams will play 25 point sets. Referees will be using more discretion with respect to ball handling so that there will be fewer stoppages of play. Finally, each side will be allowed only 12 substitutions (instead of the former 15) due to shortened play.
The Ephs played their first home game and conference opener against Hamilton last night, but the results arrived too late to be included in this issue. They will travel to the Brandeis Invitational this Friday.