The Elizabethtown College women’s volleyball team seems to have a promising season ahead of them, judging by a recent Landmark Conference pre-season poll. The Blue Jays were picked fourth in the conference, based on votes cast by the coaches within the Landmark Conference. Randall Kreider, head coach for the Blue Jays, said the team’s primary goal for the season is to be competitive within this new conference and the region itself.
With what Kreider refers to as the “new makeup of the coaching staff,” in addition to a smooth pre-season hinting at success, he said the team hopes to finish higher than their predicted conference rank of fourth. Senior defensive specialist and captain Jen Cook said that the team’s goal every year is to win the conference. The majority of the team’s conference matches are later in the season, and Cook believes that playing tougher teams in the beginning of the season will help them know exactly “what [they] need to work out” to prepare for these later matches.
The two new assistant coaches, Terry Hutchinson and Crystal Agnew, will bring a new dynamic to the team, which Kreider is excited about. Hutchinson, the primary assistant coach, will be working mostly with blocking and defense. There was a notable difference in the team with the new summer workout program Hutchinson designed for the girls. “I don’t think the team as a whole has ever returned for preseason in such good physical shape,” Cook said. Hutchinson may be tough, but according to Cook, he “knows a lot about volleyball and is always ready to tell [the players] how [they] can be better.”
Agnew, an Etown volleyball alumna who graduated in 2011, will be working mostly with the setters. Agnew should fit well into the team given that, as Cook puts it, “she knows both the program and how [Kreider] likes to run it.” The players will be welcoming to Agnew as they feel “it should be nice to have a female on the coaching staff,” Cook said.
Kreider and Cook both feel that the loss of last season’s senior captain and libero Carolyn Lukiewski was a tough one. Cook feels that while it may take the team some time to adjust, they are working hard. The players’ biggest challenge will be to focus on their personal roles and responsibilities to help make this adjustment.
The Jays had their first match of the season against Penn State Berks, whom they beat 3-2. Senior middle hitter Kelci Scannapieco attained 12 kills, three aces and three blocks. Junior setter Steph High had 29 assists, nine digs and four unreturned serves, while junior libero Shannon Deck had 27 digs. Other notable performances include junior middle hitter Karley Ice’s seven kills and five solo blocks and junior outside hitter Megan McNaul’s six kills and 13 digs.
The Blue Jays faced a tough loss the following day against Franklin & Marshall. Franklin & Marshall College won the first two games by four and three points respectively, with the Blue Jays coming back to win the third game by two. Franklin & Marshall then took the fourth and final game to give them a victory. Within these four games, first-year outside hitter Allie Traynor attained 13 kills and 12 digs, and High earned 12 assists and 12 digs.
Later that same day, the team defeated Lancaster Bible College in four games. In these games, Scannapieco was again a top performer with 17 kills and four blocks, with first-year outside hitter and defensive specialist Chelsea Gallagher raking in eight kills and 14 digs. High makes the list of top performers again with her 39 assists and 15 digs. Traynor had seven kills and 10 digs, and Cook had 17 digs.
Etown was off to a rough start with 11 attacking errors in their first game against Messiah. Messiah defeated Etown in a quick three games. Over the weekend, Etown stole the second game in their match against Shenandoah, but lost the match in a four game fight. In the match against DeSales, Traynor saw some more playing time and had seven kills, while senior outside hitter Taylor Beck followed closely behind with six kills. High had 25 assists, while Cook and McNaul had 13 and 11 digs, respectively.
The Blue Jays came back after the three consecutive losses against Messiah, Shenandoah and DeSales to beat both Baruch and Rutgers-Camden in Muhlenberg College’s Buttermaker Tournament. Despite losing the first game to Baruch, Etown won the following three games and totaled 46 kills and an impressive 76 digs for the match. High was also kept busy with a season best of 42 assists. Etown was then able to beat Rutgers in the first game of their match 25-12, and proceeded to take the next two games, with 11 kills from Scannapieco.
Etown faces Rowan and Gettysburg at 4 and 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12 in Thompson Gymnasium.