Volleyball improves to four straight victories

Sam Tapper — Sports Writer

Part of being defending champions is that will always have a target on your back the following year, and, for the volleyball team, that target got even bigger on Saturday as the Owls improved to 4-0 in the young season.

The defending NE10 champs hosted the SCSU Tri-Match over the weekend to open the year. They picked up wins against Dominican College, QueensCollege, Assumption College and Caldwell University.

The Owls may have lost their first set of the year, 25-22 to Dominican on Friday, but they have not lost a set since then. The Owls were able to sweep Queens on Friday and then went a perfect 6-0 on Saturday against Assumption and Caldwell.

“I’m so proud of this group,” said head coach Lisa Barbaro. “I couldn’t be more proud of the performance I saw this whole weekend. It seems like every single set we’ve been able to play this weekend we’ve just gotten stronger.”

Despite the 4-0 record, the Owls remain incredibly thin due to injury, and only seven players saw action. Barbaro added that almost half of her team is currently out.

“We’re still pretty banged up,” said Barbaro. “We’re starting to get people back slowly and integrating them into practice, I think we’re just going to be stronger as the season goes on.”

Among the list of healthy players is graduate student, Jennifer Dawson, a hitter and defensive specialist, as well as one of two captains on the team. As one of the leaders, Dawson was able to keep her team composed despite falling into some big deficits
against Caldwell.

In their third set against the Cougars, the Owls found themselves down 11-3 early. Dawson was vocal on the court and said that it is all about taking it play-by-play.

“It’s all about the mindset,” said Dawson. “We come in, reset, forget about the points that just happened–nothing you can do, you can’t go back, you can only go forward- so we just took steps forward and really pushed our way through.”

Dawson finished the match against the Cougars with nine kills, 13 digs, one ace and one assist. She and the rest of her team got a major boost from a young contributor, freshman outside hitter Ella White.

White finished the day with eight kills in 40 total attempts as well as one assist, two digs and two block assists.

Barbaro noted that White is somebody to keep an eye on.

“I’m really proud of that kid, as she has a huge upside,” said Barbaro. “She’s actually playing outside of her natural position. With the injuries we moved her to the right side, so she’s not even 100 percent comfortable in that position, but she really showed up. Just a really great job.”

“It’s pretty amazing,” said White, regarding the opportunity she has been given. “It’s a great feeling that I’m here already and helping out and I’m just grateful to be able to play as a freshman.”

Up next, the Owls will travel to Waterbury, Conn. to play in the Post Tournament from Saturday, Sept. 14 to Sunday Sept 15.

They will first face the Felician University Golden Falcons, first followed by Bloomsburg University, the University of Bridgeport and finally, the host team, Post University.

Though their record says they are perfect, perfection is hard to achieve in sports. For Barbaro, it is about taking it one step at a time.

“We kind of reset every week,” said Barbaro. “I try to keep them calm, and we just kind of focus on one day at a time, and I’m always reminding them of that.”

Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo

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