The Stevenson University women’s volleyball team is hopeful for a deep run in the 2019 NCAA women’s volleyball championships.
The Mustangs finished the season 29-2 and won their eighth straight Middle Atlantic Commonwealth Conference (MAC) championship on Nov. 9 against Arcadia University. Stevenson women’s volleyball has not lost a MAC Commonwealth championship since joining the conference in 2012, according to gomustangsports.com.
Winning the conference gave the Mustangs an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. This is their ninth straight appearance at the NCAA tournament, according to gomustangsports.com.
The Mustangs will travel to Christopher Newport University on Nov. 15 where they will face the host Captains in the first-round NCAA match set to start at 8 p.m.
Several team members earned conference honors this season. Head coach Dave Trumbo was named MAC coach of the year, while senior Katie Leftridge was named MAC player of the year, according to gomustangsports.com. Senior Victoria Prokic won first-team all conference, and freshman Simone Gest was named Rookie of the Year and earned the MAC Commonwealth Conference championship MVP.
The Mustangs are led by a group of five seniors along with four starting freshmen. According to assistant coach Brent Whitehead, the leadership of the seniors has been an integral part of their success down the stretch of the season.
“The freshmen will react and respond the way their seniors are handling the situation. The way our seniors manage the court and keep things under control even when things are not going our way has helped us tremendously in tight matches,” said Whitehead.
Another contributor to the Mustangs’ continuing success this season has been the fearlessness of their freshmen, even in the biggest moments.
“The tenacity that our freshmen show, and have shown this whole season, has been a huge part of our success. They have raised the level of play in our gym and make our practices very competitive,” said Whitehead.
Fortunately for the freshmen, they have MAC Commonwealth Player of the Year Leftridge to look up to. Leftridge, one of the five seniors, is a mainstay for the Mustangs’ serve-receive and front-row offense as an outside hitter.
“I know as an outside when the pressure is on, we get fed the ball, and we are a main part of the serve- receive. I try to take more swings and passes because I know how stressful it is to have to pass a ball on game point, or swing on game point,” said Leftridge.
The senior attributes a good portion of her success and development as a player to Trumbo.
“My freshmen year, I could not even pass a free ball, let alone be a primary passer. Not only has coach Trumbo helped me turn into the player I am now, but over time he developed me into becoming a vocal leader of the team,” said Leftridge.
She is extremely confident headed into the post-season, and is hoping her team can continue their positive play from the MAC Commonwealth Championship match versus Arcadia University.
“Personally, I feel a lot better about NCAAs because I know if we play as well as we did during our finals match against Arcadia, than we can do way more than we realize,” Leftridge said.