Volleyball chases after second championship
Sam Tapper — Sports Writer
After making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017 and winning their first ever NE10 conference title in 2018, Southern’s volleyball team said it hopes to keep trending upward in 2019.
After the Owls started out with a mediocre 7-10 a season ago, they were able to flip the switch and finish the season on a 14-4 run to claim the conference title and play in the NCAA Tournament against number two- seeded, and fellow NE10 rival, Adelphi University. Despite the loss, the Owls’ success last year only serves as motivation to do better this year.
“Obviously, the goal is to continue that upward trend and hopefully be back in the championship,” said head coach Lisa Barbaro. “For us, it’s really about maintaining the culture that we’ve created these past few years and the work ethic.”
It has not always been easy, but the Owls have worked incredibly hard in recent years to improve and establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the NE10. Just four years ago, the Owls found themselves winning only seven games and finishing in the bottom of the standings. However, for Barbaro and her players, it is not as much about perfection than it is about being the hardest working team.
“We definitely had to just focus on winning each day instead of focusing on the bigger picture, winning NE10’s,” said senior hitter Jillian Chambers. “I think that’s why we were able to be so successful.”
Chambers said a big part of last year’s success was the level of trust the team had with one another, something that they will need to retain for this year. This year’s roster consists of 20 players, which includes six true freshmen and ten new players in total.
Having strong leadership skills among the upperclassmen is important with all the new additions, and Barbaro pointed to Chambers and graduate-student defensive-specialist Jennifer Dawson as two of her most important leaders on the court and in the locker room this year.
“I try to help steer them in the right direction. It’s a huge transition coming from high school to college,” said Dawson. “I know it’s tough especially with so many young people, so I just try to guide them in the right direction and show them the example of hard work and competitiveness and really show them what it’s like to be a part of such an awesome culture.”
Barbaro only has one primary concern with her team: health.
“We’re a little banged up,” said Barbaro. “Right now, it’s just about getting everybody back healthy, it’s definitely a concern early on.”
Injuries aside, there is excitement among the Owls for this upcoming season. They hold a
firm belief that they can come together as a team to win the conference again this year and make a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.
“We always talk to the girls about really trusting in the process and outworking our opponents,” said Barbaro. “That’s going to still be the recipe for us going forward.”
In their season opener on Sept. 6th, the Owls will host Dominican College and Queens College as part of the SCSU Tri-Match, and