The women’s volleyball team looks to build off a strong 2012 season this year in the new Big East Conference.
The Pirates had their best start in nearly two decades last season, winning 15 of their first 16 games before losing nine of their last 12 to end the year, missing out on the Big East Tournament.
“Last year was obviously a very tough end to the season and it just motivates us to do better this year,” said second-year head coach Allison Yaeger.”We’re looking forward to getting through this season with some good wins.”
Yaeger added that her team knows they should have made the tournament last year, leaving them with a lot of things to prove in 2013.
Returning for the team this season is a core group of veterans who played a large role in the team’s success last season, led by its lone senior and co-captain Alyssa Warren. Warren led the team in digs in 2012 and is rapidly approaching the all-time school record for digs in a career, a record currently held by team assistant coach Allie Matters.
But Warren and Yaeger are focusing more on the team and said they see this season as an opportunity more for the team than for personal accolades.
“We love the new Big East,” Yaeger said. “We have high ex- pectations; we were picked to come in fourth in the pre-season poll, but I definitely think we can finish higher.”
“We’re all very excited about the new conference,” Warren said. “I’m most excited about traveling to the new schools and being able to play the conference schools twice.”
Also returning for the Pirates this season is junior co-captain Shelbey Manthorpe. Manthorpe, who led the team in kills a season ago, was named to her second consecutive All-Big East selection. She finished last season with a team high 19 double-doubles and a nation’s best eight triple-doubles.
“I think it’s an honor just that other coaches in the conference would be willing to nominate me for Big East, but I also think a major reason why I was able to get on All-Big East was because of my teammates,” Manthorpe said. “Without them, there is no way I could’ve been picked for this.”
“Coming into this year, after she (Manthorpe) was first-team All-Conference and her making the preseason team this year, we have high expectations for Shelbey, and she knows that as well,” Yaeger said. “She knows there is a lot on the table for her this year.”
After finishing ninth last year following their late-season collapse, the Pirates will contest with newcomers Creighton, Butler and Xavier, as well as six remaining schools from the old Big East, to prove that the early part of last season was not a fluke.
“Last year everyone expected a lot from us and we didn’t get the job done,” Warren added. “This year, we’re just going to take it one game at a time.”
“The fans can expect us to be a team this year, coming together and being one,” Manthorpe said. “Last year we were a bunch of individuals while this year we’re in sync.”
The team returns to action this weekend in part of the Yale University Tournament. They will take on Colgate on Friday and Missouri and host Yale on Saturday in New Haven, Conn.
David Heim can be reached at email@example.com.