Promising outlook for women’s volleyball

Kristen Quaresimo

Coming off with an early season win against Central Connecticut State University, coach Makeba Davis and his squad look ahead to a bright future.
Davis, a four year coach for the women’s volleyball team at Quinnipiac, said this could be a turn-around season after last year’s 5-4 Northeast Conference record.
Last season stands as the team’s third straight trip to the playoffs. The women faced a tough five game defeat to Fairleigh Dickinson. Davis, however, was still satisfied with the team’s performance.
“Our record was low in terms of wins, but I was still very happy with the way we performed against other teams,” said Davis.
The Bobcats brought in five new freshmen, including outside hitter Amoi Alawoya, setter Caitlin Casti, and defensive specialists Danielle Erickson, Jamie Locke and Erika Montgomery.
As for the nine returning players, the squad includes outside hitters Jackie Gallo, Heather Grutta and Lindsey Rogers, setters Kristen Erdmann and Janka Lopatto, middle hitters Katelyn Nelson, Alyssa Schatzel and Heather Wollyung, along with defensive specialist Alanna Hyland.
Despite the significant losses of ball control and team leadership from outside hitter Kristen Busch and setter Jocelyn Costa, who both graduated this past spring, Davis looks to his recruits to play an important role in the team’s success.
“We were able to recover those losses with the recruiting class we brought in and the juniors who stepped up this year as seniors,” said Davis. “I believe we are a better team this year than we were last year.”
Senior captains Schatzel, Wollyung and Grutta agree.
“The freshmen this year have made us a lot stronger… mainly just to improve our defense, which is doing very well,” said Wollyung.
Such an improvement is essential to the team’s success after a previous weak defensive season. And with the introduction of the LeBarro to the Division I program, that goal doesn’t seem so far away.
The LeBarro refers to an assigned player who is not allowed to serve, but may enter the game at any time and play any defensive position.
“Our primary LeBarro this year is Danielle Erickson,” said Davis.
Erickson is otherwise known as “D,” named after her defensive role.
“I expect ‘D’ to do a very good job for us, making us equal if not better than a lot of other teams on defense,” said Davis.
The Bobcat offense has always been a strong force, and with the addition of the LeBarro, Davis believes there is a much greater opportunity to win.
Coach Davis’ theory has already been proven correct, as the squad captured the close three-game win over conference finalist Central Connecticut.
Last year, the Bobcats previously failed to overcome CCSU in the Holy Cross tournament.
The next time, however, according to Schatzel, a different result is possible
“We had injuries, so the next time could be completely different.”
These were injuries that the team cannot afford. Davis suggests that the key to success is maintaining a healthy squad, as the loss of any starter would call for significant adjustments, which could be crucial to the outcome of the season. This includes the support staff.
“All our support players are just as important, because they make us strong in terms of practicing and getting ready for competition,” said Davis.
With the availability of this healthy crew, Davis believes that “We have a great opportunity to win our conference championship this year.”
This is a goal that all three captains agree is very possible.
The captains also wish to pursue another goal this year.
“I believe the goal this year is to solidify our program,” said Davis.
With the preserving of a consistent coaching staff and recruiting plan, Coach Davis suggests, “We will have the kind of opportunity to succeed year after year.”
The team continues their trek to the NEC finals as they host the Quinnipiac Invitational Tournament on Sept. 27 and 28.