Seton Hall volleyball coach Allison Yaeger lost plenty of firepower at the end of last season.
One of the top players in program history, Abby Thelen, graduated. The outside hitter was a constant threat for the Pirates and equally allowed for other players to see more opportunities due to overcompensation by the opposition.
Other threats, including Caitlin Koska and Sophia Coffey, also left after their eligibility expired. Thus, Yaeger had the tough task of replacing plenty of talent on the roster, and so far, she has seen great success from her freshmen core.
This year’s team has a staggering eight freshmen, which is a high number for any team, especially volleyball. On the team this year is MacKenzie Huntley, Jennifer Giron, Kyleigh Dana, Reagan Hopp, Grace Rosenberg, Raygan Murray, Reece Koehler and Julia Wilkins.
So far, Hopp, Koehler Murray, and Wilkins have seen the most playing time, but all of them have contributed in one way or another. All of the group are from out of state, with the closest being from Lido Beach, New York on Long Island. Yaeger, who went to school in Ohio at Wright State, clearly placed an emphasis on Midwest recruitment, as two freshmen hail from Ohio, one from Indiana, and one from Minnesota.
Regardless of where the members of the team come from, one thing is clear – they are getting the job done. Although the 5-9 record that the squad holds through Sept. 25 is not pretty by any means, it is to be expected when going through a roster transformation like they are. Most recently, the team took two of three games at the George Mason Invitational against William and Mary and George Mason, despite losing to Wake Forest. It was the second time out of the last three tournaments that the team left a tournament with a winning record.
This is in no small part to the freshmen stepping up when given the playing time.
Koehler and Murray have each played over 40 sets, and Wilkins and Hopp are slightly behind at 37 and 20 played, respectively. The most heavily played duo is also third and fourth on the team in kills, respectively, with Wilkins at 81 and Koehler at 67. In terms of other stat leaders, Murray leads the teams in digs with 172.
Dana, Huntley and Giron, among others, have not seen the court as much as others, but there is plenty of time left in the season.
One thing is for certain for Yaeger and the team moving forward, and that is the freshmen have made an impact thus far and it can only increase from here.
Kevin Kopf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @KevinKopfHWH.