Lehigh’s volleyball team started off its home season with a three-set win against Saint Peter’s University on Friday. The team’s strong performance during the match shows its determination to continue its success from last season. Coming off a 22-10 season in 2014, the team hopes it will be able to be successful during the current season.
“Our team goal right now is to win every home game of the season and then hopefully the Patriot League Championship” sophomore middle blocker Kelly Bennett said. “I’m confident that our team can do it.”
After losing two influential seniors from last year, Jade Van Streepen and Kaylynn Genemaras, coach Bob Bertucci knows the team will accomplish its goals if it works hard. The team, comprised of five seniors, two juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen, is looking strong so far.
Senior setter Amy Matula made the preseason All-Patriot League team. Unlike most teams in the Patriot League, the team has four skilled setters. This advantage allows the Mountain Hawks to have more flexibility on the court and will allow them to utilize their variety of skills.
However, Bertucci has acknowledged the uphill battle the team will face regarding making it to the Patriot League championship match. Last year, the team just fell short to the No. 1 seed American University.
“American has just about their whole team back from last year and they have the Player of the Year on their team,” Bertucci said. “We’ve got to get better physically and we’re working on that. We just have to keep tweaking things week to week.”
American University went 27-7 last season while also winning the Patriot League Championship over Lehigh.
Defensively, the team is strong with returning junior libero Mariah Brantley and sophomore Hannah Chalk. Offensively the team is strong with returning senior outside hitter Leah Turner and returning sophomore libero/defensive specialist Natasha Van Streepen. However, Bertucci said there is always room for improvement.
“Our senior class as a group are standouts,” Bertucci said.
Matula, setter Claire Bradshaw, Turner, middle blocker Ana Vrhel and right side hitter Stephanie Slater are the seniors he’s referring to, each coming into the year with standout junior seasons under their belts.
Looking forward, the team hopes it can build off of its past successes and learn from its challenges. With five new players on the squad, Bennett remarked that the team dynamic has changed since last year, but is looking forward to getting to know the new players.
During its second match on Friday against Marist College, the team looked strong offensively and worked well together to ensure yet another 3-0 win for the day.
The Hawks continued its winning streak with a pair of home wins Saturday, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson University 3-0 and Morehead State University 3-1.
The team will look to push its winning streak to five matches with a home match against Villanova University on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.