In 2019, the Slippery Rock volleyball team complied a 7-23 (2-16 PSAC) while dealing with injuries all season and had looked to use this season to get back on track with the new talent being brought in and the players that had been missing got healthy. And the decision came down to postpone the fall season. And The Rock volleyball team’s plans were washed away like those of every other team in the PSAC.
“It’s been a little bit frustrating because for players like Jayln Willard, who was injured last October, she hasn’t been on the court since then, and we’re trying to make the most of the situation and we’re getting some more one on one time with the kids, but I think they’re missing each other,” SRU head coach Laurie Lokash said.
The last time Rock volleyball won a contest over a year ago, as they ended the season banged up and dropped every game after their win against Lock Haven which brought The Rock to 7-7 (2-1 PSAC) when they won the game on Oct. 4 of last year. After the game, they dropped 16 straight games. Willard, who was a senior this season, was one of those players that got injured at around the same time as the last win for The Rock, and since then hasn’t been in a real game.
“I think that [our team’s] ability to adapt during this time will be evident when we get back together, because we have voluntary hours in the gym and we have some people trying to get as much in as they can and then there’s those who’re content to have what they have. And we have weight training programs, where you’re either doing it or you’re not,” Lokash said.
The team had bi-weekly meetings over the summer and had a Zoom meeting once a week to keep up with the players and their progress in training. The workouts during this time are voluntary and most of the team has been able to attend liftings. Lokash has been able to get players on the court for around three hours a week, but the team is limited to just eight hours of work together.
From a recruiting standpoint, the landscape has been altered as the process of recruiting has obviously been changed like everything else since there is not huge tournaments going on that The Rock and other schools can recruit at. Players have had to adjust and have had to call The Rock and other schools to find out if The Rock is offering what they want in a school.
The upperclassman still have not had a chance to see the freshman yet, but as time goes on, the upperclassman are getting to see the freshman on the court. As is the case for most teams, the incoming pieces that are coming in have not been able to be on the court with the entire team yet due to restrictions that have been set forward by the PSAC.
Overall there are seven incoming freshman: three setters (Peytan Gullickson, Taylor Fellers, and Emily Wetzel), a defensive specialist (Kate Lachendro), an outside hitter (Shelby Brownfield), and two middle hitters (Jiley Berger and Maryellen Berger). Overall, Lokash thinks that the incoming class could make a splash as soon as they hit the court. Among the seven, Lachendro has really impressed the upperclassman in the short time that she has been around them according to Lokash. And the other six will all be competing for starting spots when they get back to court as well.
The PSAC currently has talks to have a season, although the extent of the season is still unknown. The hope is to have the longest season possible, because the teams in the PSAC want to be able to have their seniors play, because they are not extremely confident in that many seniors would return. The goal is to at least have a PSAC tournament, which would include every team and would take place after a few regular season games. The Rock volleyball team, like every other team, is excited to finally get back on the court when that time comes.