Cenzo Rossi ‘22
With a 1-1 record to begin A-10 conference, the women’s volleyball team is currently in the middle of the pack in the A-10. Despite losing their final four non-conference games to finish the stretch 5-8, positive signs can be taken from the season so far.
Bright spots include wins over Elon and UNC Wilmington, two schools the volleyball team has recently struggled against with a combined record of 1-4 in the past 5 years. Additionally, the team endured close battles with five-set losses to UNC Charlotte, Morehead State, Winthrop, and Wofford. According to captain Emma McLaughlin ‘20, the team “want[s] to make our regular games more like our bright spots.”
Head coach Chris Willis has hailed the impact of 3-time A-10 Rookie of the Week Madeline Wynn ‘23, citing her “blocking” and “attacking efficiency,” as Wynn is among the league leaders in hitting percentage (.325) and blocks per set (1.31). Additionally, Coach Willis has praised middle-blocker Elizabeth Crosley ’21, as her start to the season has reinforced why she is one of “the best middle blockers in the conference.” Coach Willis refers to her playing as “off the charts” as she maintains the league’s highest hitting percentage of (.381).
Other key players include libero Josie Treadwell ‘20 and setter Sydney Champaigne ‘21. Treadwell is the underpinning of the success of ball control and defense, as she leads the team in digs (238) and digs/set (4.18), good for 4th in the A-10. Coach Willis mentions that she “steals points from opponents.” Champaigne is an integral part of the offensive attack as she leads the team in assists with (513), which is 3rd in the A-10.
Adding on to the impressive play of some individuals, what makes this year’s team exciting and intriguing is its depth. Elise Edman ‘20 is 2nd on the team with (142) digs and (2.63) digs/set, and outside hitter Hattie Rodriguez ‘22 provides a big offensive role leading the team in kills with (153), good for 5th in the league. While Alison Jennings ’22 was “fantastic” early in the season, the emergence of Caroline Mohler ’22, who plays the same position as Jennings, has provided “optimism,” leading to some difficult coaching decisions that signal the depth of the team.
Contributors off the bench include Remi Lehnertz ’21 as she is 5th on the team in kills with (64) and digs with (73), and Emma McLaughlin ’20 who is 4th on the team in kills (88). As McLaughlin added, the team strives for a “complete performance every time they walk in the gym.”
Discussing expectations, Coach Willis is more focused on the process and expects the team to “get better every day,” but the ultimate goal is to qualify for the A-10 tournament. With the team coming in 7th place last season, narrowly missing out on the tournament as only six teams qualify, there is a reason to believe this team can reach the A-10 tournament.
Despite the difficult end to the non-conference season and the loss to La Salle on Sunday, McLaughlin believes the quality of opponents played during the non-conference “will set us up for A-10 play.” The team hopes to bounce back this Friday against A-10 contender VCU and continue their quest to qualify for the A-10 tournament.