The 2014 season was a historic one for Seton Hall’s volleyball team, as the team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
In 2017, it is still widely remembered and talked about. However, only one member of this season’s team is still at Seton Hall to tell the tale.
“It was very overwhelming for me as a freshman, I try to bring whatever I can to this team this year,” senior libero Sarah Kenneweg said. “We are excited to have it be spoken about that 2017 team. We want people to say ‘remember that 2017 team that was picked eighth and were the underdogs and then did all these great things’ and we talk about my first year as what we want to be this year.”
It has been important for Kenneweg to use this experience to help establish herself as a leader. After losing one of the most crucial pieces to the program over the past few seasons in two-time Big East Libero of the Year Tessa Fournier, the Pirates were looking for more leadership, especially with the majority of the team being sophomores and juniors.
“Sarah has the most experience out of anyone on this team and she’s played on this court and as a starter for all four years here,” coach Allison Yaeger said. “She’s almost like another coach with me and Allie [Matters] in that she is helping to look lead this team in the right direction and help build the culture we want to build, she always with us the whole step of the way.”
Each of the past three seasons, the Pirates have finished higher than their preseason ranking in the Big East. This year, the Pirates were picked at No. 8 in the preseason coaches’ poll. However, they have already surpassed expectations with 10 conference wins after defeating rival St. John’s in four sets on Nov. 11. The Pirates can also attribute their success to their play and record in Walsh, which sits at a mark of 7-3, and 5-2 in the Big East.
The Pirates are looking to make a final push for one of the four Big East Conference Tournament spots. A win and a Villanova loss this upcoming weekend would secure a spot in the postseason, and Kenneweg believes that there certainly is potential to get there for a second straight season.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there, but I think we are all ready for it and we are excited to see what we can do,” Kenneweg said. “We have to play our game every game. We have to show up ready, every game. We all have to be there for each other as a team; if one of us if off, then we’re all off.”
The Pirates have two games remaining, as they square off with Butler on Nov. 17 and then Xavier on Nov. 18, which is also senior night, at home in Walsh Gymnasium. Kenneweg will be honored on this special occasion, as she has a lot to be rewarded for throughout her time at Seton Hall. Kenneweg recorded her 1,000th career dig in a 10-dig effort in a sweep of DePaul on Oct. 27. Her current mark of 1,074 after the St. John’s game has placed her in the top-10 in program history.
“That was a huge night for me and there were a lot of eyes on me, which I’m not very used to,” Kenneweg said. “I really enjoyed being able to achieve that at home here in Walsh Gym, it was a special moment for me to have all my teammates supporting me; it was a special night surrounded by special people.”
“We’re really going to miss Sarah next year and I’m so glad she was able to finally put on that libero jersey this year,” Yaeger said. “To get her 1,000 dig at home for us and for her was a really big deal and I think she’s had a great experience here over the past four years.”
Matt Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.