First-year coach leads Pirates’ volleyball
In the midst of the volleyball team’s most successful start to a season since 1996, rookie head coach Allison Yaeger doesn’t seem fazed by the transition from assistant to head coach, bringing the team out to an early 8-1 record.
“You know it’s a lot more responsibility.” Yaeger said. “It’s funny, I never knew two things; I never knew it would be this much responsibility, and I never knew I would have so much fun doing it, and with these girls it actually came pretty easy to me.”
The Pirates began thoughts of having such a successful season before the season even started. Players and coaches together visualized their success right from the start of pre-season. Expressing team unity in wanting to win is something Yaeger is refreshed to have in the program this year.
“As soon as we got here in preseason everyone was really excited to get this season off to a great start,” Yaeger explained, “and we all have the same mind set which I don’t think we’ve had that before in the past, and that’s just to win and give it 100 percent all the time.”
Not only has Yaeger brought the Pirates to winning ways quickly, she’s done so with a roster that includes a collection of only six upperclassmen players. Dealing with a heavy influx of youthful and inexperienced players, Yaeger gave the under- classmen exposure in in-game sitatuoins, which led to them flourishing in their roles and becoming a large part of the team’s success.
“We have Amanda Hansen who is our stating middle and also Molly Grammer who is our starting right side.” Yaeger said. “Those are two huge positions that had to be filled from last year with (graduate) Krissy Wrobel being our middle, and (graduate) Meghan Matusiak being one of the most successful players to come out of Seton Hall volley- ball, and the freshmen have done a wonderful job.”
Yaeger’s ability to surround her team with freshman capable of playing at a high level has eased the pain of the veteran losses.
“I mean I couldn’t ask for anything more from the freshman,” Yaeger said. Again it’s bringing in kids who are competitive and have the same mindset as every- body else has on the team,” Yaeger said. “We always talk about two things, we talk about staying focused and have a sense of urgency.”
With Yaeger propelling this youthful team to early success it is allowing the Pirates to project their winning mentality to a more long term state of mind. Envisioning success beyond the regular season, something the Pirates aren’t accustomed to.
“For the first time we actually talk about winning the Big East, which has never been a topic of conversation before.” Yaeger said. “You know it’s always been ‘we want to make the Big East Tournament, we want to make the Big East Tournament,’ but we’re not satisfied with just making the Big East Tournament, and we’re not satisfied with winning one or two matches while we’re there, we want to win the whole thing.”
Along with Yaeger’s aspirations for extensive postseason play her attitude has seemed to rub off on her players as well.
“This year our kids are talking about open bids to the NCAA Tournament, the kids just want more, and that’s what I want,” Yaeger said. “Again going back to that we’re all on the same page, we all have the same mind set. Anything less than that is just unacceptable with the girls right now.”
Yaeger believes the team is not even half way there.
“I’d say we’re not even to the 50 percent mark of being great,” Yaeger said. “We’re learning and we’re off to a good start, its good. But there’s still a lot to learn on everyone’s part to reach that 100 percent mark, and I believe we will.”
Yager will lead her team on the sidelines at Walsh Gymnasium this weekend at the SHU Invitational Tournament against Stony Brook on Friday at 7 p.m. and Morgan State on Saturday at 3p.m.
Dennis Chambers can be reached at Dennis.Chambers@ student.shu.edu