The women’s volleyball team discuss plays on Senior Day, Nov., 2, 2019. The team has big goals for next season, after finishing last season 14-17. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Volleyball looks to build upon 2019 quarterfinal appearance

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The Lehigh volleyball team looks to improve after being knocked out of the Patriot League quarter final by No. 4 Navy in fall 2019. 

After finishing 14-17 overall (7-9 in-conference), head coach Alexa Keckler said six recruits are expected to join the team for the 2020 season in the fall. Keckler said they are bringing a wide range of ability to the team. 

“I think our dynamic will actually improve quite a bit,” Keckler said. 

Regarding the quarterfinal match, Keckler said making an appearance in that game was important to everyone on the team for different reasons.

“It was certainly great for our seniors to be able to experience that one more time, and I think it was good for our underclassmen to kind of see what that playoff scenario and environment felt like,” she said.

Though the squad will be losing five seniors in 2020, the incoming players will be joining an already deep team, of which many underclassmen played significant minutes in 2019. 

Sophomore outside hitter Ava Hudson said depth was one of the team’s greatest strengths last season. 

“At times when we had to sub people out if it just wasn’t their day or whatever was going on, I think we had really good team chemistry, and pretty much everyone that was on the bench could go in at any time, and they had the support of the whole team behind them,” she said.

Despite the departures of key seniors, Hudson said she does not expect team chemistry to dip next year, as she said all of the new recruits are already bought into the team culture.

Hudson said she is excited to welcome the incoming first-year players to the tight-knit group her teammates and Keckler have created.

“With the team that we have, I honestly think our chemistry is just unparalleled,” Hudson said. “I’ve never been on a team in all my years of club that has gotten along as well as we do and wanted to win as much as we do.”

Team chemistry has proven to be unexpectedly integral for the players and coaches in the last month. What is typically the team’s offseason has resulted in finding optimal solutions to handle the challenges presented by the stay-at-home order.

Junior outside hitter Sabrina Lancaster said the team has found ways to stay in touch while everyone is home, such as weekly Zoom meetings organized by the coaches, a team book club that helps teammates stay connected in each other’s lives and online workouts that help team members stay in volleyball shape.

“We’re definitely trying to stay accountable for each other and stay on top of our game, even though we’re not necessarily in the gym or on the court,” Lancaster said. 

Lancaster, one of the many leaders on the roster, said she, too, is looking forward to seeing what the incoming recruits can bring to the team for the upcoming season.

More than anything, Lancaster said she hopes the freshmen carry the team’s mentality with them to Bethlehem.

“One of the biggest things I hope they come in with is commitment and the ‘do right’ mentality that our whole team kind of pushes,” she said. “Our slogan for our team culture is to always be accountable and committed and do right when we’re supposed to.”

The volleyball team hopes to start up play on time in the fall, but during this uncertain time, that decision cannot yet be made — the athletes are preparing regardless of what may come.

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