Coming off an unusual losing season in 2011, the 2012 Blue Jay women’s volleyball team has come back with more focus and determination to prove last year was just a fluke.
At the Buttermaker Tournament hosted by Muhlenberg College over the weekend, the Blue Jays finished second in the tournament to Salisbury University.
The Blue Jays took on DeSales University Friday and defeated them three sets to one and swept Washington College three sets to none.
In the win against DeSales, sophomore Kelci Scannapieco and senior Holly Bubb, who were named to the Buttermaker All-Tournament team, had 12 kills each, while sophomore Taylor Beck had 10 kills. The Blue Jays won the first set in a close game 25-22 but DeSales won the second 25-21. The Blue Jays won convincingly in the third set, but it took extra points in the fourth set for the Blue Jays to come out on top.
On the second day, the Blue Jays were swept by Salisbury University three sets to none, but bounced back in their second game of the day as they swept hosts Muhlenberg. In the victory against Muhlenberg, Bubb and first-year Juliana Mowen had nine kills apiece, Beck had seven and senior Lindsay Palm had five. Although it was a sweep, all three sets were closely contested by the hosts, as the Blue Jays came out on top 25-17, 25-23 and 25-22 to take the win.
With a 6-2 record going into Tuesday’s game against Lycoming College, the team is two wins shy of their win total from last season. Senior captain Megan Kenneweg and junior captain Carolyn Lukiewski said that this team is holding each other responsible as the team looks to build off their strong start early in the season. “We are holding each other more responsible on and off the court,” Lukiewski said.
Even with 11 first-year players on the team, the core of seven returning players has high expectations. “Our goal this year is to win the conference,” Kenneweg said. However, with a larger conference and longer playoff road, Kenneweg stated, “The playoffs are easier to get in, but harder to win.”
The team’s practices have become more intense and there is fierce competition all around. “I think that the team is preparing for conference play by bringing it all to practices. Our practices are much more competitive and we bring a lot more energy when we play, even when we play three on three,” Kenneweg said.
One of the tougher games that the Blue Jays have this season is against archrival Messiah College, to whom the Blue Jays lost in a five-set thriller last season. One of the teams to contend of the conference championship is four-time defending conference champion Lebanon Valley College, who has defeated the Blue Jays in six out of the last seven meetings, including twice in the conference championship in 2009 and 2010.
One of the new players to watch is Scannapieco. The transfer from Juniata College has helped the Blue Jays and has made an impact early in the season as she was named to the All-Tournament team with her outstanding play over the weekend.