The women’s volleyball team split University at Albany (UAlbany) in a doubleheader on Feb. 20. The Pioneers went 1-1 in a 3-2 match loss followed by a 3-0 sweep win. The Pioneers fell to Seton Hall on Feb. 27 with a 3-1 match.
Even though their season was pushed back until the spring, the Sacred Heart women’s volleyball coach, Rob Machan, is keeping his players focused and ready to play.
“[The team’s] focus is trying to develop a team continuity with a very strong returning team, returning conference champions,” said Machan. “We added a lot of strong young players so [we are] just trying to get that continuity between everybody within a short period of time.”
The volleyball schedule is typically played during the fall semester, but due to COVID-19 the team was able to complete their season during the spring semester. Games within the Northeast Conference (NEC) will all be doubleheader matchups.
“It is a complete shift in mindset,” said opposite hitter Olivia Fairchild. “Normally in the spring we are able to develop and work on a lot more skills. In the fall it is all about competing and having to switch is really interesting.”
The change in seasons did not seem to affect Fairchild in the slightest during the doubleheader against UAlbany this past weekend. She had a team leading 11 kills in game one, and 12 kills in game two.
Junior setter Sarah Ciszek also had a very impressive weekend against UAlbany. In game one, she had 10 kills, 25 assists, and 25 digs. In game two of the doubleheader, she had 29 assists and 10 digs.
Ciszek spoke about the adjustments her coaches made in order for her to have an all-around outstanding game.
“I hit more since we were 6-2 and we had another setter come in,” said Ciszek. “I would often hit whereas in the second game, I was setting more often.”
Coach Manchan had very kind words for both of these players.
“Sarah is always the one who leads what we do. She is intensely competitive and a wonderful athlete. She is one of those players that always shows up,” said Manchan.
In regard to Fairchild, Coach Manchan said, “She was dominant. She was unstoppable and gave us the feeling of comfort that we had the ability to score when we needed to.”
Currently holding a 1-3 record this season, the team is fully confident in their ability to bounce back. They are the reigning conference champions of the NEC and they are confident in their abilities to hold the title.
Even with the tough loss to Baylor last year in the NCAA tournament, Coach Manchan knows his team is ready to show everyone what they are capable of.
“We would like another chance to see what we can do and feel more comfortable in the tournament,” said Manchan. “This team feels like we have a chance to advance. With the athletes we have, they will not back down.”
Sacred Heart will continue their quest for another NEC championship on March 2 with a doubleheader against Central Connecticut State.