“The Mercyhurst Athletic Center’s (MAC) doors do not open until Sept. 23 for PSAC competition, but the women’s volleyball team already has their eyes on the prize: The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) title.
Finishing sixth in 2010, the Lakers are looking to radically change that number and come out on top. With only three freshmen on this year’s roster, experience will play a huge role in fulfilling PSAC dreams.
Experience has already taken the team to a 5-3 start.
Junior captains Amanda Balasko and Katie Powell will lead the veteran squad into their conference play.
“Experience is going to be big in this year’s season,” Balasko said.
“We’ve been young in the past, but our experience will show through in games,” Coach Ryan Patton said. “Quite a few of our players have been starting since freshman year, and their time to use that experience is now.”
Playing together has led to a deeper connectiveness within the team. The relationships off the court have led to success on the court.
“Discipline has been our biggest key, a lot of hard work in the off-season transferred into being prepared for preseason,” Balasko said.
After losing two four-year starters to graduation in 2010, and two other players who saw a lot of playing time, the team dynamic has barely changed.
“On the surface it could look that the team is different, but those roles have quickly been filled by other players,” Patton said.
He added that key contributors to this year’s roster are senior Chelsea Hennigan, and juniors Becky Smith, Kiera Rebert and Gretta Freyermuth.
Clarion and Gannon will be the team’s toughest competition this year in the PSAC, but both Balasko and Patton know the keys to winning.
“Strong serving and defense. We need to keep the ball off the floor. We might have less firepower on attacks, but we can beat opponents on defense,” Patton said.
Success is the only option. Eleven out of the 20 players on this year’s team are upperclassmen. This experience will power the team to reach their goal of being at the top of the PSAC.
PSAC play will open with Slippery Rock, Sept. 23 at 7:05 p.m. in the MAC.