Young squad provides energy, drive throughout 2nd season

photo by Maddy Cole

The men’s volleyball team is young as this is their second year as a program, but it is also young in its composition consisting of 13 freshmen, seven sophomores and one junior. The seven sophomores are the only returning letterwinners, however, as the other 14 are newcomers to the team.

Having such a young squad has proven to provide both positives and negatives for the Duhawks. One benefit of this youthful team is the vitality and competitive spirit they bring to the table. Each member of the team is constantly working to make themselves and the team better.

“The youth on our team gives lots of energy during practice with people competing for a spot every day. No position is set in stone,” said sophomore setter Shayne Marquez.

This versatility is evidenced in the fact that 16 of the team’s 21 players saw the court in at least one of last weekend’s two matches.

Another advantage to having a young group of guys is they are able to learn and grow together. The seven returners were the members of the inaugural team last season. These athletes are having to work alongside each other to build this program. They are working through successes and mistakes together, forming a strong bond along the way.

While the opportunity to grow as a group in this way is great, not having any highly experienced players at the college level has its downfalls. Most of these athletes are a year or two out of playing at the high school or club level. That is a completely different playing field than the NCAA. Unlike other Loras sports, where recruited freshmen have sophomores, juniors and seniors to look up to, the case is not yet the same for the volleyball team as the program is in its early stages.

“Our roster is unique in the aspect that we have to learn a lot of things on our own. We don’t have many people who can show us how or what to do in any given situation outside from the returning sophomore core,” Marquez said.

Despite a lack of upperclassmen, the Duhawks are trying to find their rhythm. Loras faced Marian on Friday in the first of their two matches that weekend. The Duhawks took the first set 25-22. The team fought hard, managing to garner the lead after trading points with the Sabres in the beginning of the first frame. Unfortunately, Marian took the next three sets to top Loras 3-1.

On Saturday the Duhawks hosted Lakeland for more MCVL action. The Muskies got out to a hot start, and Loras fell 3-0.

The team is a forced to be reckoned with when they are clicking, so their task going forward is finishing strong. They are evenly matched with many of their opponents, but they stumble in the final points of their sets. If the Duhawks can transform their youthful energy into balanced experience, they will likely find success in the remainder of the season.

Loras will host Mount St. Joseph, Wittenberg and Ottawa this weekend in the final three games of their three-week home stand. First serve against MSJ is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, March 11. Then on Saturday, March 12, the team will face Wittenberg at 2 p.m. followed by Ottawa at 7 p.m.

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