Hurst Volleyball explodes to 7-1

After dropping their first contest to Northern Michigan University in the Ferris State Tournament, the Hurst has rolled to a seven-game win streak. The most notable of wins came over Ferris State University who was ranked 14th in the nation at the time.

The five-game thriller was led by senior Kiera Rebert with a career-high 41 assists and senior Elyse Texido with 35 digs. Texido’s digs were also a career-high and the most by a Mercyhurst libero since 2004.

After the upset win, the Lakers picked up three more wins during the Mercyhurst Gannon Invitational. All matches were won in four sets or less.

The team of 19 is led by a powerhouse packed upperclass. The 2012 Lakers have 7 seniors and 5 juniors. This experience has fueled the team’s exciting run.

“Maturation that comes with age has made a big difference so far,” said Head Coach Ryan Patton. “Specifically, there seems so far to be a determination to buckle down and do the extra things that good teams do.”

Senior Katie Powell agrees.

“We have been playing together since we were freshmen and now that we are seniors we have a lot of experience,” said Powell. “Because our senior class is large, we have been able to lead the underclassmen by example.”

The Lakers have rebounded from the 2011 season, finishing the year with a 14-18 overall record. Only losing seniors Chelsea Hennigan, Kelsey Richardson, and Megan Riske has allowed the team to use their existing chemistry to fuel their 2012 run.

It’s the little things that have impressed Coach Patton. “Covering attackers and playing solid defense has been our strongest points, this may be the best team I’ve ever had or seen at it.”

As PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) play approaches, the Hurst eyes on being a top contender.

“We need to improve our intensity,” said Powell. “Usually by the third set we lose a little momentum, and we need to be able to rally and finish the game.”

Patton feels this team has put it all together. “We finally have good competitive aggression pointed at people in other uniforms, an understanding of all the extras it takes to be good instead of okay, and a sense of urgency that successful teams feel.”

The Lakers added four newcomers in 2012, Kelly Vitt, Erin Byrnes, Karly Burns and Lexi Stefanov. These freshman have used experience from upperclassmen to find their place on the roster.

Seniors Kiera Rebert, Amanda Balasko, Becky Smith, Becky Leusch, and Elyse Texido have been leading the stat column. Most of these seniors have been in their position since freshman or sophomore year making each of their roles difficult to fill. Rebert and Texido are off to career starts and will be tough roles to find replacements in 2013. Rebert has 237 assists on the year, and Texido has 132 digs.

The 2012 Lakers have set the pace for a memorable year, and will open home PSAC play Oct. 5 against Kutztown at 2:30 p.m. in the MAC (Mercyhurst Athletic Center).