Stevenson women’s volleyball started off the 2019 season with a 10-0 winning streak, defending the Middle Atlantic Commonwealth Conference (MAC) title for the eighth year in a row.
The expectation is to win the conference and ultimately progress further in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) playoffs, ideally winning the National Championship. The Mustangs are setting high standards for this season, according to head coach Dave Trumbo.
At the close of their 2018 season, Stevenson was ranked No. 11 in the NCAA Middle Atlantic region. The Mustangs are undefeated so far in 2019, and have swept seven out of 10 of their games so far. They average 13.8 kills per set, 17 digs, and are 2-0 in conference with wins against Albright College and Messiah College.
The Mustangs also earned both offensive and defensive MAC Player of the Week honors for Sept. 16. Senior Victoria Provik was named the Offensive Player with a career-best 21 kills, and 39 digs. Senior captain Katie Leftridge had 44 digs and 33 kills.
The idea that “we play as a team but play to win—we play to win at practice and at games,” according to junior Rysleigh Reeves, increases the team’s dynamic and mindset for success. Leftridge has experienced this culture throughout her volleyball career at Stevenson, but this year stands out for her because of the strong dynamic she sees in the first-year class, as the team is averaging shutouts each match.
The freshman class (seven members) have impressed the returnees, and they bring a new level of competitiveness to the court that caught Leftridge’s eye. According to sophomore captain Emily Pellini, there is a positive mentality of being fearless and ready to play that the new class manifests. The first match included several underclass players in the starting lineup, resulting in success that led to their 15th straight opener win.
Both coaches and players acknowledge their passion for the sport, and it shows in weeks of consistent back-to-back matches, recovery, lift, practice, and school. Trumbo said that “coaches and players would rather play than practice” because of their competitive nature, but the preparation comes in practice. The dedication and grit that the team puts in during training allows them to move toward their larger goal of reaching the NCAA tournament.
The leadership role of the captains requires the ability to inspire positivity that can push the team forward. Pellini, one of the two captains along with Leftridge, spoke highly of the captains when she was a freshman because they taught her the culture and passion for this sport. Leftridge and Pellini believe the trait that captains need is the ability to persevere and not let a bad play negatively influence yourself and the team.
This team enjoys the fearless spirit of the freshman class, the wisdom and experience of the seniors, and the enthusiastic energy of their mentors. They have talent and momentum moving into conference play and are looking to make a statement this season. Their next home game will be Saturday, Sept. 21 at 11 a.m. against St. Mary’s College of Maryland.