The 2016 season has officially come to a close for the Seton Hall volleyball team.
The Pirates ended their campaign after a 3-0 loss to Creighton in the Big East Tournament on Friday, Nov. 25 in Indianapolis, Ind. They finish the season with a 16-16 overall record and a 10-8 in-conference record.
While the season ended with a loss in the first round of the tournament, the 2016 season had plenty of bright spots. Senior libero Tessa Fournier concluded her Seton Hall career by being named the Big East Libero of the Year and a member of the All-Big East First Team, both for the third consecutive season. She led the conference in digs per set (5.03). Senior outside hitter Danielle Schroeder was named to the All-Big East Second Team after ranking ninth in the conference with 345 kills.
Coach Allison Yaeger said heading into the season that her goal was to bring the squad to the Big East Tournament.
“The girls break their huddles with ‘Big East!’ just as a reminder that that’s the main goal of the season,” Yaeger said.
She was able to accomplish that goal thanks to strong in-conference performances, achieving double-digit wins in Big East play for the second time in program history.
The road to Indianapolis was certainly not an easy one. One of the toughest challenges that Seton Hall had to overcome was the overall youth of the team. With nine underclassmen and just two seniors (Schroeder and Fournier) on the team, the Pirates had little experience to draw on.
“Being young was the only thing I think that was going to hold us back from making the tournament,” Yaeger said. “Most of our team never experienced the playoffs so they don’t truly appreciate it and how important it is. I wanted them to experience it now so that we didn’t wait until they were seniors to make the playoffs.”
Yaeger wanted the team to get a taste of postseason volleyball so that they would fight hard to come back to the tournament every season.
Another challenge that the Pirates overcame was a slow start to the season. Seton Hall dropped its first four games of the season before a victory over Canisius sparked a five-game winning streak. The team went into conference play with a 6-7 record and ended the regular season with a 16-15 record.
Fournier missed the first tournament of the season, the Golden Dome Invitational. She believed this attributed to the slow start.
“It was tough not just for me but for the team, losing their captain and their starting libero,” Fournier said. “I think after that, we all came together and realized how much potential we have. We needed to play as a team and not as individuals.”
“We got better every single day,” Yaeger said. “We were in and out of a 6-2 and a 5-1 offense, and that means that everybody needs to be prepared…they have to be ready, and they were. If we switched it up halfway through a match, they were okay and they knew what to do.”
Schroeder and Fournier donned the Pirate uniform for the final time in the loss to Creighton on Nov. 25. Fournier leaves Seton Hall as one of the most decorated athletes in the program’s history.
“I’m honored to be able to achieve so many goals at this school, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it anywhere else,” Fournier said.
Yaeger remains optimistic for the 2017 season despite losing Fournier and Schroeder, saying that she saw great improvement players like Sarah Kenneweg and Dominique Mason all throughout the season.
Matt Lapolla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.