Opening up this year’s 2013 Volleyball Season, the Owls actually have an idea of what it is going to look like.
Last year the Owls had seven out of ten roster spots held by freshman.
This year the group is a year older and is coming off a loss in last year’s Little East Championship game to UMASS Boston. The Owls who had the youngest team in the LEC finished the season with a 20-17 record.
Head Coach Bob Weiner said the Owls learned a lot last season.
A significant fact about last year’s team was that they opened last season with a nine-person rotation and at the end of the year, six of the players were different.
“That is the crazy thing when you have a group of freshman at the same time. All of the aspects of volleyball they did well but sometimes they’d be hot offensively as a pistol and one day they wouldn’t be,” said Weiner.
Another reason for the success last year was because the players trusted the coaching staff.
“When they began to trust us the information we were giving them we were doing it for their benefit they got better,” said Weiner.
The young group of players that includes just two juniors learned how to play a longer and more intense season.
Weiner said the goal this season is to get back to the championship game.
“They set the bar high. Anything less than getting back might be a disappointment.” Weiner said this team has a three-year window of opportunity as a majority of the team is in their sophomore season.
The Owls have quite a few players to keep an eye on this season at Spaulding Gymnasium.
Weiner said, “Alexis Michal our setter is probably one of the better setters in the conference. She’s our quarterback. We’ll go as far as she takes us. “ Wiener is also looked forward to play from his two junior Sammy Dormio and Samantha Branning.
“Dormio is a two year starter, and she is the only freshman that started for us two years ago and she is legit,” said Weiner.
Dormio was an all conference player last season. In addition Branning had a great pre season.
The coaching staff is also looking for good things from Angelia Silveri, who is also an all conference player. She set the Keene State College record for Kills by a freshman. Weiner said, “That hasn’t affected her. “
Finally, Brooke Bell, a freshman Setter from Melrose, Massachusetts, looks like she will be a good addition as well.
“She has a ridiculously high volleyball IQ and understands the game,” said Weiner.
Last season the Owls played the seventh most difficult schedule in New England Division III.
This year the schedule is harder and the goal remains the same win the conference, said Weiner.
Junior Samantha Branning said she feels that the bar being set that high will not negatively affect the team. Branning commented, “I don’t think it is too much pressure on us because it makes work harder. We’re better than last year, more experienced the pressure is needed.”
Sophomore Alexis Michal said the chemistry of the team is very good.
“We get along very well, we are a young team the chemistry is great. When referring to the loss,” Michal said, “I think it helped us because we all had to learn all together.”
The Owls are predicted to finished second in the LEC according the 2013 LEC Volleyball Coaches’ Poll. Last year’s conference champion and four time defending champion UMass Boston is predicted to finish first. The Owls did receive one first place vote. The play on the volleyball court will decide if the poll is right. The Owls are, as Alexis Michal said, “One step away.”
Brian Clemmenson can be reached at