Nick McAdam, Sports Editor
With only three games left to go, the Utica Pioneers women’s volleyball team has a record of 2-22 on the season. The last victory for the team came against Cazenovia College on Sept. 21 with a 3-0 shutout performance.
At the moment, the team is riding a 10-game losing streak. The Pioneers are 0-5 in conference play and have one win split between home and away games.
It’s a descending trend for Utica’s record over the past few seasons. The team finished with a 7-23 record in 2017 and a 5-22 record in 2018. The last time the team finished with two-to-three wins on the season was in 2011 with a record of 3-31.
Interestingly enough, or maybe not so for fans of the team, the last time Utica finished with a record of near .500 was in 2002, just one year separated after the initial season of the team.
Despite all of this, players on the team such as Lindsey Hannel remain optimistic about what the present and future hold for volleyball here at UC. Hannel described a different dynamic to the team this year in terms of injuries.
“We lost four of our six starters so we had to fill in a lot of big shoes,” Hannel said. “We also suffered some pretty major injuries that have taken both of our setters out for the season. This puts us at a major disadvantage when we play really advanced teams.”
Setting numbers confirm the injuries as the team is currently doubling the opponent average in ball handling errors by 17. More categories inflicting damage to the team include blocking errors, reception errors and kills, all of which double above or below the amount set by opponents this season.
Statistics don’t lie, but Hannel believes it is more of a mental game than eyeing the number columns. The middle hitter and right setter want to keep a positive attitude which can go a long way into finishing strong while taking strides towards a better future.
“We all have a strong desire to win so I’m hoping it can push us to some victories in these final weeks,” Hannel said.
Chemistry building ties to the age of the current team which happens to be relatively young. Eleven of the 17 Pioneers are currently sophomores or first-year players; meaning a total of 65 percent still have two more seasons left at Utica.
The Pioneers still have three contests to go for the season; two of which are away from home and one afinal home effort against SUNY-Delhi on Oct. 30. All opponents except Alfred University have an even record or above, with Houghton College hosting a record of 16-4 and a 3-1 conference record.
Going forward, even past this season and into the years beyond graduation for most, Hannel said she wants to see the family atmosphere continue to grow and develop even more than what it has already accomplished.
“We all love and support one another on the court and off and I would love to see that kind of bond continues,” she said. “I would also love to see some more victories to showcase how good of a team we are.”