By Luke Mich
A couple weeks ago, on Nov. 2, the women’s volleyball team concluded their season.
Head Coach Susan Hozak stated that the regular season started off a little slower than expected.
“We had five freshmen on the court during multiple rotations, so it took them a little while to get up to speed with the collegiate game,” she said.
However, Hozak stated, the team got going after the slow start.
“Once we started conference play in October, the season began to pick up,” she explained.
After a 5-13 record by the end of October, the team won 10 of the next 14 matches to close out the regular season, including a four-match winning streak entering the postseason.
Madison Reeping, a junior middle hitter and blocker, stated that the Oct. 12 game vs. Bethany College, a 3-1 home match win, was the turning point in their season.
“On that day, something clicked, and we took off,” Reeping said.
Hozak explained that the cause of the slow start to the team’s season was the addition of many new faces.
“With 10 freshman and eight upperclassmen on the team, it took a while for [the players and coaches] to get to know each other,” Hozak stated.
Even during their early struggles, Hozak said, she commended how the team acted.
“They were very patient with each other and the staff, and they just kept working hard. [The players] did everything they were asked to do,” Hozak stated.
Carly Augustine, a freshman setter and right-side hitter, said that they practiced different drills every day to improve their individual and team skills, and the coaches “addressed and noted areas of strength and weakness during focused practices.”
Both Hozak and Augustine stated the leadership from the upperclassmen was praiseworthy.
“They stepped up and were great examples for the [freshman] players and made them feel more welcome,” Hozak said.
Augustine stated that they had “a truly awesome group of upperclassmen who were welcoming, supportive, and overall great role models.”
Entering into the playoffs with a four-match winning streak, the fourth seeded Bearcats beat Thiel College at home in the opening round. However, their season ended with a loss to top-seeded Westminster in the following round. Still, the team looks confident towards next season due to the majority of starters being current freshmen.
“We have a very sturdy foundation [and] with only losing one starting player [middle hitter Sarah Wozniak], I am very confident that we will be a great volleyball team,” Reeping said.
Augustine stated that though the team would lose Wozniak, their top hitter who leads the team in kills and thus leaves shoes that would be a challenge to fill, it leaves room for others to step up – which she said she is certain of.
“If we come in strong and keep our focus, we will be a force to be reckoned with next year,” Augustine stated.