For the Elizabethtown College’s volleyball team, the 2012 season brings a chance for the team to wipe away bad memories of 2011 season and replace them with a conference championship.
The Commonwealth Conference added two tough competitors this year in Stevenson University and Hood College. “We want to bounce back after last season and show every team in the conference that we deserve the championship,” senior Lindsay Palm said.
To prepare for a successful season, the team started with three-a-day practices a week before classes began. According to senior Meg Kenneweg, the Blue Jays would start out on the turf in the morning at 6:30 a.m. for a session of agilities. The afternoon and night sessions were focused on skill work and scrimmaging. Senior Holly Bubb credits the team with higher intensity during preseason practices this year.
“Less balls hit the ground and more girls were hustling to every ball. We introduced several new drills in order to keep our energy level higher than before,” she said.
Picked fifth in this season’s conference preseason poll, the Blue Jays welcome 11 new players to their roster. They look to senior leadership from previous All-Conference players Palm and Bubb, Kenneweg and junior Carolyn Lukiewski to set the foundation for this season’s success. These returners expect large contributions out of the newcomers.
“Kelci Scannapico is a middle hitter transfer from Juniata, and she will play a large factor in our offense – she has speed and the skills to be effective,” Kenneweg said. Bubb added, “We brought in several strong setters this year who will play a huge role in our team this year because setters are the ‘play makers’ in volleyball,” she said. “They call the shots and set the tone for each match played.”
This season marks the eleventh season for Head Coach Randall Kreider, and it has already been a memorable season for him. With a win Aug. 31 against Penn State Berks, Kreider has amassed 200 wins in his career at Etown.
While five-set matches were the downfall for Etown last season – the team was 1-9 in five-set matches – the Blue Jays were able to pull out a victory over the Nittany Lions. First-years Victoria Leidy and Brynne Kirsch both recorded double-doubles in the match, which in volleyball terms, stands for kills and digs.
Etown competed next at the Crosstown Crossover tournament Sept. 1 at Franklin and Marshall College. There the team fell to the Diplomats 3-0 but rebounded to a 3-0 win over Lancaster Bible College. Going into the weekend of matches, the Blue Jays were looking to have high intensity throughout the matches.
“Although we have been playing with new players for an entire week, we still need to make sure the connections and communications are present on the court both Friday night and Saturday,” Bubb said.
However, the Blue Jays still have much to work on to achieve their ultimate goal of Commonwealth Conference champions. Palm said it is critical for the team’s newcomers to continue bonding and meshing with the rest of the team.
“We are learning to work alongside new people on the court, but all 18 of us get along great and have such high energy and enthusiasm in practice that team cohesion won’t take long to achieve. We are already a family on and off the court,” she said.