NORTH ADAMS -- The goal: A home playoff game.
That’s what the MCLA volleyball team is aiming for, and it will be relying on versatility and scrappiness to get it there -- and beyond. That quest begins today against Eastern Nazarene at 6 p.m.
"Top three is not unrealistic," sophomore Sam Barbarotta said. "I think this year we have more to work with. Last year, we were more set, like who played where because of the talent we had on the team. But this year, everyone, we kind of all wrote utility player on our sheets because coach says go and we go and we can do it, too."
The Trailblazers lost just two players from last year’s squad, but have only three upperclassmen (Kelley Bryant, Julia Christian and Kendra Hobbs). That leaves six sophomores and seven freshman.
Christian sees their youth as an advantage because it makes them quicker, she said.
Speed and quickness will surely be important for a team priding itself on scrappiness.
"Volleyball’s all about momentum and when you can run down a broken play, you gain all the momentum of the match at that point, and we do that," coach Amanda Beckwith said. "We did it this past weekend [at MIT], we do it in practice, we will continue to do it in games and that will be a force for us, and it will drive us to want more."
The two players that MCLA lost (Kayla Bromback and Taylor Warnock) were the top two offensive threats for the Trailblazers. The 6-foot
Bromback’s loss leaves an opportunity for someone else to take on the offensive load, but it also leaves the Trailblazers without much height. Sophomore Darien Quick is the tallest returner at 5-10.
"A lot of people don’t see us as a threat because we don’t have height, obviously," Christian said. "We definitely scrap. We get to the balls that most people wouldn’t."
How do they plan on making up for the loss, though? Defense. And playing smart offense.
"It’s tactical, like seeing the other court, finding the holes," Bryant said. "Playing to our own strengths."
Bechwith said teams have been able to key on one or two particular players either offensively of defensively to beat MCLA in the past. That won’t be the case this year.
"They’re going to have to shut down all [our players] to have an impact and to try to stop us because we had a couple forces in the past that we did ride offensively and defensively," she said. "Now, we will be a force throughout. We are not going to sit on one person’s back or one person’s arm. Everyone will be on and need to be on for us to be the best we can be."