by Megan DePrimio, Staff Writer
As the season for fall sports is currently underway, the SVC women’s volleyball team is off to an impressive 8-2 start with play just beginning in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC).
After posting a 23-11 record last year, head coach Sue Hozak is pleased with how her team is playing thus far. Following a loss to Juniata, ranked second in the nation, the girls were able to bounce back at the Dickinson Tournament in early September by going 3-1.
Along with being the coach of the Lady Bearcats Volleyball Team for the last twenty-five years, Hozak also serves SVC as the Assistant Athletic Director as well as the Compliance Office to the NCAA. Although she has over two decades of experience, Hozak still looks to assistant coach Scott Wisneski for advice and strategy development, making the pair a formidable team.
With the four year probation period finally over (SVC moved from NAIA Division II to NCAA Division III), SVC sports teams now have the chance to qualify for the NCAA Tournament — a goal which the Lady Bearcats have definitely set in their sights. Primarily, the team wants to win the PAC itself, which would increase their seeding in the NCAA standings. Once in the tournament, the objective is to win at least a first round game, a feat which no team from the PAC has accomplished.
Sophomore Devin McGrath, the team’s solo setter, is positive about beginning PAC play.
“I’m pretty excited our record can count towards a playoff berth. I also feel like we match up very well with the top teams in the PAC because our starting lineup is pretty experienced. We expect to finish as a top team,” McGrath said.
While there are 18 girls on the team, ten of them are freshmen. Despite the major adaptations that the freshmen are undergoing, Coach Hozak says the underclassmen are “doing a fine job.”
Through the assistance of the three senior captains, Natalie Hozak, Rachel Pace, and Diana Petrovich, the freshmen are becoming aware of what is expected of them.
“The freshmen are greatly contributing to the team, whether it is being supportive or encouraging from either the bench or the game itself. They are always loud and excited to be there,” Hozak remarked.
In regards to how individuals are playing as a team, junior Taylor Guido says, “I really think the team ‘fits’ together this year on and off the court. The reason I think all of us fit so well together is because we make each other laugh and always back each other up. It is nice to see everyone truly coming together to work as a unit. The team feels like a family, and I think that’ll help us to be successful.”
Hozak attributes her team’s success to “the fact that we bring in volleyball players and student-athletes who believe in our coaching philosophy and work hard to excel.”
Although the team is performing well, Hozak is still looking to get more out of her players. Development in general is a key factor, and Hozak expects each player to work hard and buy into the system so the team as a whole can “…keep progressing and improve throughout the season.” Ideally this will occur and the SVC volleyball team will “set” itself up as they “approach” conference play and a great post season.