By Pat Mariboe
After posting a 1-6 record at home and failing to qualify for the Centennial Conference playoffs last season, Washington College women’s volleyball Head Coach Jamie Leventry is hoping to get the season off to a running start with the help of a newly elected senior captain trio Taylor Horan, Sarah Bentley, and Alaina Geissberger.
For Horan, this isn’t her first time in a leadership role on the team, as she previously served as one of the three team captains last season.
“I continue to feel very honored to serve in this capacity,” Horan said. “I think that leadership by example is important, especially for our team’s younger players, so my plan for this year is to stay positive, work hard, do my job, and be a good teammate. … This is a great group of girls with some amazing talent and I’m really excited for what they will bring to the team.”
Standout performers Bentley and Geissberger will be getting their first taste of a leadership role, but are confident and ready to get to work.
“Initially I was very excited to be named captain, especially to share the honor with two teammates that I know share the same passion and goals as I do for the team,” Bentley said. “I hope to be a very vocal and positive leader for the team this year, and keep the team motivated toward reaching our goals.”
Geissberger said she was ecstatic to be named captain.
“This year I really hope to lead the team by example, but also to show them how mentally tough we can be,” she said. “I want the whole team to be confident in themselves and everyone else because whenever we have that type of mentality we can go places.”
This is the first season since 2014 where there’s been at least seven incoming freshmen on the roster, which means that senior leadership is crucial now more than ever. The team immediately met with a roadblock this preseason, as their main practice facility in the Cain Athletic Center was closed for renovation.
“We have historically had excellent pre-season preparation here at WC which allows our team to get the rust off, integrate our new players, and develop team chemistry both on and off the court,” Horan said. “Our team is keeping a positive mindset throughout this preseason and we are using this hurdle to make our team stronger. It doesn’t matter where we play as long as we keep a positive attitude and work hard. This obstacle will only make us better.”
Despite the hindrance, the team looks forward to putting their practice to the test in the upcoming DeSales Invitational on Sept. 1-2. In the same tournament last year, the team finished with a 3-1 overall record, and are looking to perform the same, if not better, this time around.
“For the DeSales Invitational, our team will prepare by working hard in preseason and regular season practices leading up to the matches, as well as spending additional time with our strength coaches, and getting the proper treatment that we need from our athletic training staff in order to make sure we are in the best shape for the season,” Bentley said. “We hope to be very competitive in practice, and with our incoming freshmen we will be able to hold more inner squad scrimmages to help us prepare.”
Of the Shorewomen’s 12-13 overall record last season, only three of those wins came in the CC. However, the Shorewomen showed signs of promise towards the end of their last campaign, beating McDaniel 3-2 after losing the first two sets. There were plenty more positive performances throughout the season, and along with that momentum and the large incoming freshman class, the sky is the limit for this year’s team.
“Building on our season last year, I believe we have everything we need to have a great upcoming season,” Horan said.
She said that they have nine returning students, in addition to the seven freshmen.
“I also think that having a positive attitude can go a long way, so if we stay positive and move past mistakes quickly good things will happen,” she said. “We have the talent and if we can keep that talent at a consistent level we are going to have a great year and we will definitely qualify for the CC tournament.”
A 5-6 away record is just one of the many positives the team hopes to build on this upcoming season. The captains also took some time to reflect on areas of improvement that they look to fix this time around.
“Everything could always use some improving, but last year we did struggle defensively,” Geissberger said.
She mentioned times when they would “get into deep holes” and the competitors would be ahead five points.
“This year we need to avoid those plays all together and focus on coming right back after making a mistake,” she said. “So if we all have the mindset and really focus on our goal for this season I believe we can really succeed.”
After the DeSales Invitational, the team travels to Goucher on Sept. 5 before beginning a five-game homestand. One of those five games includes a matchup against CC powerhouses Gettysburg, and the Shorewomen look forward to showing what they can do not only against the Bullets, but the rest of the CC as well.
“I think this season will be great for us looking at our returners as well as the talent our incoming freshmen is bringing to our team,” Bentley said. “Our team holds a lot of talent, we just need to bring 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time.”