Fresh off of its 2018 ECAC Championship win, the women’s volleyball team established itself as a force to be reckoned with and entered this season with a chip on its shoulder.
Starting off the 2019 campaign strong, the team opened against Buffalo State College and swept the competition 3-0 on Aug. 30. Taking the lead, the women never fell behind, showing their opponents that they were here to take control and win the game. The next day, they had a busy schedule facing two opponents, Wheaton College and Pratt Institute, respectively. Again, they defeated both schools by identical 3-0 scores. The Violets continued their winning streak against Arcadia University, Stockton University and Skidmore College, only faltering in a tight match against Springfield College.
CAS junior and co-captain Jacqueline Kupeli credits the team’s success in part to the coaching staff and the strong team dynamic.
“The overall time we’ve spent with the new coaches, like the new coaching style has been so beneficial,” Kupeli said. “Our practices’ structures have been really well rounded where we’ll divide up individual skills and we’ll go to game play. So we get a little piece of the sport each practice which I think really helps us mentally prepare for the game.”
Hired in April 2018, Head Coach Andrew Brown took the reins of a lackluster team that finished the 2017 season with a 7-20 record. Brown and his assistant coach, Rachel Bello, transformed the Violets, culminating in their first ECAC Championship since 2013. Now, in his second season with the team, Brown reflects on the team’s ability to harness its full potential and looks to continue that success.
“[The] momentum, continuing the hard work that we established really allowed us to become more comfortable with our core values and our systems,” Brown said. “That way, as we welcomed new players into the school in terms of our freshmen, we were able to kind of plug them in and just continue where we left off. And I think it’s really evident on the court with all their dedication and hard work that they put in.”
While the members of the women’s volleyball team possess great skill and potential on the court, they also have the mental fortitude to push past setbacks, like the loss against Springfield College on Sept. 7. Stern first-year Nicole Daoshares said that despite the Violets’ loss, they learned a great deal that will lead to wins in the future.
“We learned a lot from that game because we have a lot of points in which we can work on,” Dao said. “Let’s keep our strengths but also work to develop and get better at our weaker points.”
Right now, with many wins coming so early in the season, the squad is focused on continuing to train hard during practices and in the weight room in order to keep the momentum going. CAS sophomore Gretchen Kincade expressed her strong belief in the team.
“[We believe in] our training and just sticking to it,” Kincade said. “We keep going, no matter what we’re doing. It’s so fast, like everyone gives it their all because it is such a high level of volleyball that we were playing, and I think as long as we continue to buy into the idea that we could be an amazing team this year, I think we’re going to be really successful.”
Dao agreed, citing the distinctive team dynamic that they possess.
“The communication overall in our team is pretty well rounded,” Dao said. “I’d say everyone contributes in their own way. And the way we work together is really collaborative and not only motivating, but like, everyone is accountable for what their job is.”
With a stellar 10-1 record so far this season, the team’s confidence is at an all-time high.
“I think that we are going to continue this upward trend for sure,” Kincade said. “It’ll be interesting to see how far we will go. People may not expect [that] for us as we have not been such a force in the past, but I think that I’m looking forward to, you know, really shocking our competitors.”
Catch the Violets back in action in their next match against the College of Mount Saint Vincent at NYU’s Brooklyn Athletic Facility on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, print edition. Email Rebecca Choi at [email protected]