After finishing their final match at the CNU Invitational, the 19th ranked Christopher Newport University volleyball team hopes to address issues that have appeared during their preconference competitions as they enter their first season as a part of the Capital Athletic Conference. Despite the team’s 10-10 start, the Captains are very confident about the rest of their season, especially because seven of their ten losses were against top-25 ranked teams. “I believe that we have best prepared ourselves for this conference because in every tournament we have been playing nationally ranked teams. We’ve had one of the hardest preseason schedules and that’s only going to prepare us to crush everyone in our conference,” said sophomore Abby McIntyre.
The Captains have a lot of work in front of them if they hope to match up to last year’s team, which had a 40-3 record and a trip to the NCAA Final Four. “We need to get better at our first contact skills: serving, passing and defense. It’s not a secret; we just have to get better in those areas. We have a lot of talent offensively and two really great setters, but it doesn’t matter if we get the pass and play defense,” said Coach Lindsay Birch. McIntyre and middle blocker Chastity Lacy, the only senior on the team, have helped lead the offense with 133 kills each, while freshmen middle blocker Hannah Miller and outside hitter Briana Sutton have proved to be valuable additions to the team with 125 and 118 kills, respectively.
After losing several important All-Americans to graduation, the team has had to rely on returning players such McIntyre, Lacy, junior outside hitter Jessie Kolden, sophomore setter Rachel Conway, who leads the teams with 373 assists, and junior defensive specialist Brooke Moore, while also relying on the support of talented freshman. In addition to Miller and Sutton, freshmen setter Paxton Crooks, who has 283 assists, and Rachel Close, who leads the team with 251 digs, have proved their worth. “I’m so confident in our team’s ability because we have the most amazing talent on the court. We lost a lot of seniors last year, but the talent that’s coming in is just as good as that,” said Lacy. McIntyre believes the newest members will be able to gain a lot of experience along with the rest of the team, regardless of the final result. “Since we are such a young team, learning is still so easy for us to do. We can all learn from losing,” said McIntyre.
The Captains’ first CAC match will be against 25th ranked Salisbury on Oct. 2.