Aug. 30 officially marked the beginning of the 2019-2020 volleyball season which kicked off with the Sea Gull Classic and a match versus the Bobcats of Thiel College. After a 20-8 season overall and an impressive 7-3 record against Centennial Conference foes in 2018, the ladies were more than anxious to repeat their success and then some. Getting a good start to the season was essential, having jumped out to a 3-0 start the year prior.
Going into the Sea Gull Classic, held in Salisbury, MD, the Mules were slated to face four opponents over the course of two days. However, at the end of those two hard fought days, the Lady Mules were only able to come away with a single victory against Clark University having won 3 sets to 2.
Following the disappointing road trip, leaving them at a 1-3 record, the squad was prepared to hit the road once again, this time to Poughkeepsie, NY. There they would take on two more opponents in Vassar College and Morrisville State in a doubleheader that would mark the final set of matches leading up to the annual Buttermaker Tournament. After winning the opening set against Vasser, the group would go on to to let up the following three sets and in a back-and-forth contest with the Morrisville Mustangs, the Mules would again fall short of their second victory of the young season.
Now at 1-5, the team must come together and fix the problems they have been facing thus far. “We need to work on maintaining our energy and not letting it suddenly drop. I think when we are all engaged, most excited, and having fun, we are able to play lights out. Maintaining our consistency is what is most crucial for our success,” said Maya Illovsky ‘21.
Outside hitters, Megan Ray ‘22 and Illovsky are exactly on the same page when it comes to correcting their mistakes and finding a way back into the win column. “We need to focus on keeping our energy consistently high throughout matches. We play to our best ability and are most successful when our energy is high,” Ray said.
The Buttermaker Tournament gets underway Sept. 13 and the ladies are looking to repeat their success from last year, having cleanly swept all four of their contests a year ago. As it quickly approaches, having the right mindset can be essential for success. For Illovsky, entering Memorial Hall ready to play is crucial. “After our games thus far, we know what we should be working on more and we are all very determined to go into this weekend hot and ready to win. We are all willing to push ourselves to get better and maintain the best level of play that we can,” Illovsky made clear.
The tournament signifies the first stretch of home games for the Mules and that alone can give them the boost they need. “We are all excited to finally play at home,” said Ray
The goals for the weekend are simple. “We have worked hard and we cannot wait to see how this weekend goes for us, but we all know that we want to grow and improve from this experience,” Ray said.
The two-day tournament will be a perfect setting for the ladies as they look to get back on track. With tough Centennial Conference play on its way, only a week after the Buttermaker concludes, coming in on a streak and being well-equipped to compete is absolutely necessary. According to Illovsky, to find success in these always hard fought conference games the team must stay focused and consistent. “Being able to play to our best capability consistently throughout the whole game and maintaining our high energy and momentum is what is most important.”
Once again, Illovsky and Ray are on the same page for they understand what this team needs to do in order to ultimately make a significant run at a Centennial Conference championship. “We are all committed to each other and the team and maintaining our energy at a consistent level throughout matches will be the key to our success this season,” said Ray.
The mutual understanding surrounding what this group must do and sustain is what will push them to return to form and their championship level play. After failing to advance out of the second round last year, the Lady Mules are certainly eager to finish the Buttermaker hot and enter conference play smoking.
On opening day of the annual tournament, the group will be taking on the Dolphins of Mount St. Vincent and finishing it off in a contest with the Eastern University Eagles.