Volleyball 2018 season preview: Family Fights Together

August 24, 2018

When the women’s volleyball team improved on their record of 7-21 in the 2016 season to a 17-15 record in the 2017 season, there was not much to attribute to the improvement besides an impassioned adjustment in team culture. Emphasizing the value of each team member and working to incorporate a more family-centered off-court culture has yielded improved play on the court.

The team hopes to maintain the team culture into the next season and capitalize on their newfound confidence. Going into the 2018 season, women’s volleyball head coach Alessia Vaccari and the team have adopted a “theme” for the year: “Family Fights Together,” emphasizing the importance of unity during competition.

In the last season, Vaccari said, “the team learned how to win,” and now the women must capitalize on their experiences of success to drive the team into a rigorous 2018 season.

The Judges are set to play a more challenging schedule than past years. On their competition schedule, Brandeis will play seven of the top 25 teams in the nation, providing them with opportunities to gain experience playing tough teams and potentially pulling off an upset win. This schedule, according to Vaccari, will give them opportunities to improve their standing in the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference and potentially to earn the NCAA national tournament berth their team has been working towards. During the team’s trip out to California at the beginning of September, they are set to play the defending Division III national champions Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Led by captains Yvette Cho ’19 (a third year captain), Marlee Nork ’19 and Belle Scott ’21, the team rosters an experienced group of eight seniors, many of whom have been starters on the team since their rookie year. They add experience and wisdom to the strategy and toughness of the team, according to Vaccari, qualities which will be valuable to display to the large incoming class of impressionable freshmen.

Rookie players add a new dynamic to the team, Vaccari said, and the inclusion of the new members ultimately constructs a group very different from last season despite having a majority of returning players. This particular group is offensive and talented, the coach said.

Along with the rookie players, Vaccari has also added a couple new faces to the assistant coaching staff. Along with volunteer assistant coach Wyatt Emenaker ’19, returning for his second year of coaching, Vaccari will be joined by Kayla Gromen, a recent graduate of Ithaca College and Cailyn Straubel, a graduate from Connecticut College with two years assistant coaching experience at Williams College.

Gromen is excited to begin her first year of coaching and has had a positive introduction to the women on the team. The coaches and team have been in contact over the summer, setting the standard for team culture by having the team offer reasons for their love and dedication to the support and to the team. “I’m excited to see where it goes,” Gromen said.

The team’s first home games are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. against University of Maine at Presque Isle and Bowdoin, respectively.

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