Volleyball begins Big East play against ‘similar’ foe on Friday
Coming off a win at the SHU Invitational Tournament, the volleyball team will begin its Big East schedule with home games against Pittsburgh and USF this weekend.
The Pirates (11-1) are currently tied with No. 10 Louisville for second place in the conference standings .
First-year head coach Alison Yaeger said the fast start is “surprising,” but said she always believed the team was talented enough to win early.
“I knew that the kids definitely had the potential to do it,” Yaeger said. “It was whether or not the kids could go out on the floor and perform. They absolutely did. It’s wonderful; we love it. It gives the kids so much confidence going into Big East.”
The first conference match the Pirates have is against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday.
The Pirates have not fared well against the Panthers historically, holding a 4-23 all-time record, including seven loses in their last eight meetings. The lone win during that eight-game stretch came last season, in a 3-1 defeat of the Panthers.
Pittsburgh holds a record of 9-5 and ranks sixth in the conference.
After watching game film of the Panthers, Yaeger said the two teams play a very comparable style of volleyball.
“I’m thinking it’s going to be a really close game,” Yaeger said. “Their hitters are similar to ours, their defense is very similar to ours. Their setter attacks, just like (sophomore Shelbey Manthorpe) attacks a lot. They distribute the ball a lot to different hitters and that’s exactly we do as well.”
Shelbey Manthorpe’s twin, Stacey, was named MVP of the SHU Invitational Tournament and named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for the second straight week.
Stacey Manthorpe said she appreciates the recognition, but it is not her number one priority.
“The recognition is awesome, but I don’t play for recognition,” Stacey Manthorpe said. “I play for my team. I play to represent Seton Hall. I can’t win awards if my team isn’t there for me.”
Yaeger said that having the Manthorpes playing on the same team gives the Pirates a leg-up over their competition.
“They have a huge part in this team’s success,” Yaeger said. “When there’s almost like there’s two of you on the court, that’s a huge advantage. They think alike, they do things on the court where it’s like ‘I can’t believe that just happened,’ because they know exactly what each other is thinking. They are leaders on the court.”
After the game against Pittsburgh, the Pirates will play host to the University of South Florida Bulls on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates hold a 3-4 all-time record against the Bulls, however they defeated the Bulls last season in four sets.
Stacey Manthorpe said that because of how competitive the Big East is, the Pirates must come into each match ready to win.
“Every Big East team is good, no matter what,” Stacey Manthorpe said. “I don’t care if they have a losing record, they can still beat anybody on any day. You just have to be prepared.”
According to Stacey Manthorpe, the Pirates want to give everything they have for their new coach.
“She’s such a great head coach because you can talk to her,” Stacey Manthorpe said. “Everyone really wants to play for her and we really want to work hard for her.”
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org