Volleyball Ready To Roll
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
After a historic season last year where Lisa Barbaro’s squad made their first ever NCAA Tournament and also collected their first NCAA win, the team make-up remains largely the same for another run.
“Our core group is returning so we definitely expect to have more experience,” she said. “Our challenges will be having a freshman setter that runs the offense but our senior leadership should let us have another great season.”
For the 2018 year, Barbaro has appointed her captains as seniors Leanna Jadus and Alyssa Gage and redshirt junior Jennifer Dawson, all who played roles last year to keep the Owls going in the playoffs.
“We’re using last year’s run as a prime example of this program’s success. We aren’t focusing too much on beating last year’s record or making a run in the playoffs but rather making short-term goals along the way,” Jadus said.
And that goes in similarly with what Barbaro preaches, just to take it one game, one match and one set at a time.
“We have long term goals to make it back to the postseason but right now it’s about winning the day and winning the week,” she said. “We have eight new freshmen that are still getting acclimated so for us it’s about everyone adapting to the culture and sharing common goals.”
This fall’s roster breaks down as such for the squad, outside of Jadus, Dawson and Gage: Kirstin Colwell is the team’s lone sophomore, while Anna Venard, Tea Carter, Gabriela Vazquez and Jillian Chambers make up the junior class.
The large freshman class includes Danbury’s Megan Mercer, Sophia Castellano, Kailyn O’Neal, Kings Park, Erika Benson, Kylie Fisher, Hamden’s Tyra Smith, Natalie Fineman and Bristol’s Xia’ian Carrasco.
“O’Neal, Fisher and Benson are already seeing significant minutes,” Barbaro said. “We’re off to a great start and we just hope that continues.”
The team left for a tournament in Miami, Florida last week and got back yesterday. They ended their tournament run with a signature five-set victory over Saginaw Valley State, out of Michigan, however, their team record, prior to last night’s game vs. Queens, is 4-4.
“Florida has some of the best teams around so it prepares us well for the start of conference play,” Barbaro said. “And the trip helps the team bond because everyone really needs to work together because volleyball is such a team sport.”
Jadus said she is “looking forward” to conference play and “overcoming obstacles” with the new group.
“I can’t wait to see everyone improve and grow stronger throughout the year,” she said. “Florida was a great opportunity for us to compete against some really strong opponents.”
After being home last night, the Owls will travel to Wilmington, Delaware for four games in two days over Sept. 7 and 8, playing Jefferson College, Chestnut Hill, Wilmington University and Holy Family. Their first home game back will be Sept. 11 against Le Moyne at 7 p.m. at Pelz Gymnasium.
“A successful team can do a lot for student life,” Barbaro said. “The support we’ve had from big crowds is really great.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana