The Sacred Heart men’s volleyball team has begun their final season in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) 3-0, winning three consecutive games for the first time since the start of the 2020 season. They will switch to the Northeast Conference (NEC) next season.
They ended with a 1-19 record last year and were projected to finish last in the conference this year, according to the EIVA Volleyball preseason poll. This will make them underdogs in their conference but head coach Bob Bertucci is hopeful that his team will outperform expectations this season.
“Our goals range from having a .500 record in overall league and conference play, to qualifying for the playoffs,” said Bertucci. “Every one of our players has a role and now must focus on their execution and contribution.”
Sophomore outside hitter Patrick Mucherino maintains a major role in the team. In the first three games, he has had a combined 38 kills and 7 blocks. His 38 kills are the most on the team, and his .500 hitting percentage is top in the conference.
“We are a completely different team coming into this season. We have been taunted because of our skills and our record, but with the strong start we are having, we plan on proving everyone wrong,” Mucherino said. “We need to focus on one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves just yet.”
Senior outside hitter Ife Loverton is another key performer for the team. He has totaled 21 kills and 13 blocks in the first three games – those 13 blocks good enough for the team lead. His blocks per set mark of 1.18 is also the best in the EIVA.
“Our team is much more cohesive than it has been in previous years, which is going to help us work better together, especially on the court,” said Loverton. “I want to be on an All-Conference team this year. With my work ethic and our team success, I feel that we can accomplish that and become a powerhouse team in the NEC.”
Only the top six teams qualify for the conference tournament at the end of the season. The Pioneers have not qualified for the tournament since the 2017 season. This will be their last chance to do so as members of the EIVA. Their next game will be played at the Pitt Center on Friday, Feb. 11 when they begin conference play against Saint Francis University (SFU).
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.