Volleyball has high hopes for upcoming season

by Nick Crispino

A new season brings new hope for the Molloy College volleyball team after finishing 9-20 overall in the East Coast Conference (ECC) in 2013. Following an exhibition tournament in Texas, Molloy stumbled against non-conference opponent Post University, 3-1, on Sept 8, at the Quealy Gymnasium. The lost can be seen as a learning lesson as they implement their strategy with a revamped roster.

"The hope is playoffs, to finish top four in the ECC and qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament," said Head Coach Billy Corrao. Entering his fourth year as head coach, Corrao has assembled a staff that includes Assistant Women's

volleyball coach Ellen Robertson and Team Manager Kaira Hassell. The roster includes seven returnees with the addition of three freshmen and two transfer students.

The maroon-and-white Lions are led by returning seniors Shannon Appeal and Sam Berna, and 2013 team leader in aces, junior Cassie Palmer. Appeal finished last year second in digs (202) and blocks (43), and third in kills (197). Berna once again was at the top of the team leaderboard in kills (253) for consecutive seasons and led the Lions in points (284.0) during the 2013 campaign. Palmer produced a breakout season, ranking second in ECC in aces (42), second on the team in kills (210) and fourth in digs (193).

"We had a really good recruiting class come in and I can't wait to see them step up this season," said Palmer about the season. Asked about the new recruits, Palmer explained, "You got to find that gel and vibe together and we defiantly have a lot of work to do." Palmer spent her offseason working on her strength and taking ball reps with Ally De Kruyf, a transfer student from Norwalk California, which is also the home of Palmer.

The start of the 2014 season began two weeks after the 2013 season with a conditioning program that is broken down into 16 week segments aimed at improving the power and strength of the athletes. Practice involves six-on-six drills but preparation depends on which opponents they're going to face in the week. Carrao believes Molloy's strengths are ball control and the ability to hamper their opponents with accurate serves. 

The new additions to the squad include transfer students De Kruyf and Danielle Williams, freshmen Dakota O'Neill, Samira Escobar, and Tia McCord. "They've [new recruits] been very productive so far," said Carrao. Both Kruyf and Williams took hold of the opportunity to start for the Lions -- Williams will be playing right side and Kruyf will start at center - after transferring over to Molloy.
"The new girls are a great asset to the team," said Appeal. "They will help us on all ends of the spectrum, passing, setting, and hitting." Appeal also believes that making the playoffs can be obtainable. "If we come out and play with confidence and energy during every match we will be able to achieve a lot this season."

"We're a very young team which is good," said Carrao. "It's just a matter of teaching them the system and getting them to buy in." Carrao agrees it's a challenge to have a cohesive unit and also noted that it's his first year he's had to handle such an influx of newcomers. Rounding out the team are sophomores Spencer Williams, Lauren Williams, Alley Stefanovski, and Grace Cookson.
Key games for the Mighty Lions are against conference rivals Queens College on Sept 16, which is their ECC home opener and Oct 14, New York Institute of Technology on Sept 18 and Oct 16, and Long Island University on Sept 25 and Oct 23.

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