PAT LONGOBARDI—Sports writer
The SCSU women’s volleyball team looks to rebuild this season after falling just one spot short of making their own conference tournament.
Southern finished last year with a 16-13 overall, and 7-8 in the Northeast-10 Conference, good for ninth place.
“We expect to be at the top of our conference and our region,” head coach Lisa Barbaro said. “The sky is the limit for this team.”
In 2010, Southern posted its third consecutive winning season. It was the first time in more than 30 years that Southern was able to accomplish that feat.
A key is that Southern is returning seven out of 14 from last season.
“The majority of our starters are returning and they are a year older,” Barbaro said, who enters her eighth season at Southern as both head volleyball and softball coach. “They are starting to gel better.”
There will be two seniors this season – Megan Lyons (Cold Spring, N.Y.) and Megan Hiss (Trinidad, Colo.).
Lyons said that she has high expectations for the team going into her final season.
“I definitely want to make the playoffs for the second time in the school’s history,” Lyons said. “We can do it.”
Southern was selected to finish eighth in the Northeast-10 Conference preseason coaches’ poll this season. That spot would get them into the postseason.
University of New Haven is the defending conference regular season and tournament champion after a 27-3 record, and 15-0 in conference. UNH was also chosen as the preseason favorite to win the conference again this season.
Top ranked Concordia-St. Paul completed their fourth consecutive national championship season after going 32-4 under head coach Brady Starkey, defeating Tampa in Louisville, Ky.
Southern also has seven freshman on the team this season – Caelese Brown, Natasha Carlbert, Chloe Dyke, Madison Featherston, Danielle Jordine, Katelyn Mayr and Jessica Ryder.
There are two sophomores – Lauren McVey and Sarah Beres, and three juniors – Kimberly Lachowicz, Syriah Celestine, and Vanessa Sullivan.
Conference play begins for Southern at Pelz Gymnasium vs. Saint Rose on Saturday, Sept. 17. Senior day will be on Friday, Oct. 28 vs. UMass-Lowell. Other notable conference games this season include vs. Bentley on Sept. 21, vs. UNH on Sept. 27, vs. AIC on Oct. 4 and at AIC on Oct. 8, vs. Pace on Oct. 11, and at Adelphi on Nov. 11.
The Owls will lose two seniors from last year – Broghan Miller and Robin Priest.
Southern finished 10-3 at home, 4-9 on the road, and 2-1 on neutral courts last season.
Lachowicz and Sullivan played in all 104 games for Southern last season.
Southern had 1,181 team kills last season. Megan Lyons led the team with 283 kills, with Megan Hiss in second with 216.
Southern recorded 1,581 digs during the season, 433 from Vanessa Sullivan. Lauren McVey was second on the team with 238.
Sarah Beres led the team in blocks with 69 (21 solo, 48 assisted). Broghan Miller was second with 65 blocks.
Southern opened the season with two home victories on Sept. 3 against Dominican College and Molloy College.
“We have a strong returning crew,” Lyons said. “The freshmen are picking up every play and practicing hard.”
Barbaro said despite the many returning players, the young players need to define themselves on the roster.
“We need 1-2 young guys,” Barbaro said. “Syriah Celestine is coming back from injury and people want her position. They are young and fresh, and are going to push her to earn that spot.”
Owls look to spike down opponents this season
PAT LONGOBARDI—Sports writer