by Dallas Huff
The men’s volleyball season came to a close after a loss to seventh ranked Stevenson in the CVC semifinals. The Eagles bounced back late in the regular season to clinch a spot in the playoffs, despite the team’s slow start at the beginning of the season. The final score of the match was 3-0, with the Eagles falling to Stevenson 25-13, 25-13 and 26-24 in the three sets played.
The team entered the playoffs on a high note, and hoped to keep the momentum going all the way to the championship.
“At the end of the regular season we really came out and played strong. We didn’t have the record we hoped for but we worked hard enough to capture a spot in the playoffs,” said junior Kyle Seeley. “Everybody’s record is 0-0 when playoffs start.”
Although the team did not reach their overall goal of winning a national championship, significant improvements were made as the season moved along. “We strive to get the younger players to improve throughout the season,” said Seeley. “They have definitely stepped up and done well for us.”
“The results don’t show the improvements we have made as a team throughout the season,” said Coach Pat Shawaryn. “We’ve gotten better throughout the season despite a few hiccups here and there.” Having a young team like this year’s could be difficult to find where everyone fits and how to make things run smoothly.
“The performance displayed in the last week of the season is exactly what we expected from the first week of the season. We finally got things clicking,” said Shawaryn.
The beginning of the season did not go well for the Eagles, losing the first three matches to Carthage, Mount St. Joseph and Wittenberg at the Wittenberg Invitational. However, the team picked up the pace winning three of the four matches played at home at the Juniata Invitational in February.
“Guys were getting more confident at their positions throughout the season,” said freshman outside hitter Quinn Peterson. “The beginning of the season was rough, especially coming off of the season they had last year.” The team last year posted a record of 24 wins and five losses.
Leading up to the playoffs, Coach Shawaryn knew that the team needed to work on their defense. “This week, the majority of our time has been put into practicing defense,” said Shawaryn.
“I was very confident in myself and the team as a whole going into playoffs,” said Peterson. “We just fell a little short.”
Senior Middle blocker Chad Albert also said that he felt good about both the team and himself as an individual as the playoffs arrived. “I was confident in how we were playing towards the end of the regular season,” he said..
“I don’t think we necessarily had our best week of practice leading up to playoffs,” said Albert. “But I do believe that the coaches did everything they could do to prepare us.”
Albert believes that the fear of potentially missing the playoffs helped make the team step up towards the end of the regular season. “Experience on the court and guys becoming more comfortable in their positions was a big part of it,” said Albert. “It was nice to see the growth in the guys on and off the court throughout the season.”
The team needed a straight set win over Cairn in order to secure a spot in the Continental Volleyball Conference Tournament during the final home game of the regular season. With a 3-0 victory in that match, the Eagles appeared to be ready to take on the challenge.
Chad Albert was named to the Continental Volleyball Conference All-Conference Team. This was Albert’s first All-Conference Award. In addition, he is a two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association Second Team All-American.
In their four years at Juniata, Albert and Shelton have won 87 matches, two conference championships and qualified for two NCAA Tournaments, competing for the National Championship in the 2014 season.
The young Eagle’s team will have high expectations for next season having a strong group of underclassmen returning. Coach Shawaryn has already been looking for the underclassmen that the team could lean on with seniors Albert and Shelton leaving. “We are trying to see which guys are going to step up and which ones aren’t,” said Shawaryn.
The men’s team posted a season record of 10 wins and 16 losses. Eight of the ten wins came from matches played at home, while only winning two matches elsewhere. The team also picked up a conference record of five wins and seven losses to finish the season.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 10 Sports