Although sweeping DePaul, 3-0, in its final match of the season on Nov. 17, the Seton Hall volleyball team ended the year on a disappointing note. In a season filled with promise and high expectations, Allison Yaeger’s squad failed to qualify for the Big East Championship.
The Pirates finished with a 10-20 record overall, including a measly 5-12 in conference play and 2-9 away from their home court. The team’s greatest downfall came in late September and in early October. Starting with a non-conference loss to Hofstra, Seton Hall went on a seven-game losing streak. The bender saw the Pirates drop its first six Big East contests, which ultimately sunk them.
Following the losing streak, the Pirates went 5-6 in Big East play, and one game against Marquette on Nov. 16 was cancelled and not made up. The team certainly had a chance to go even in conference play, which is neither good nor bad, but the start it had was too much to overcome.
The setback comes after a 16-15 record in the 2017 season. The Pirates last made the Big East Championship in 2016, although they lost to top-ranked Creighton in straight sets.
Next season, Seton Hall will need to rebound by finding more consistency. More often than not, games ended in straight sets for either the Pirates or their opponents. Finals scores of 3-2 were few and far between.
The last three matches of the season, against Creighton, St. John’s and DePaul, respectively, ended in straight sets for the victor. Seton Hall went 1-2 in those matches. You have to go back 10 games to find a five-set match. Seton Hall’s victory over Providence on Oct. 7 was one of only three games in 2018 that went the distance.
In terms of roster overhaul, the Pirates will be graduating five seniors, including crucial setter Sophia Coffey and elite hitters Caitlin Koska and Abby Thelen.
Thelen led the way all year with 391 kills, which was 100 more than the next best, Koska. The combined 682 kills from the duo is 46 more than the rest of the team combined. Seton Hall will struggle to find the power to replace Thelen and Koska, and the program will likely be forced to look to external sources for answers.
Coffey was also an ace in her area, accumulating 768 assists, good for 450 above the next best, Maggie Cvelbar.
Cvelbar, a junior, will be relied on heavily to take a brunt of the load as setter next season. Freshman libero Eden Dolezal, who saw time in 82 sets last season, will also need to take on a larger role.
The Pirates will need to do a lot of soul searching before the 2019 season. This fall was a major blemish on the program’s record, and the team will need to bounce back next calendar year in order to save face.
Kevin Kopf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KMKTNF.