Volleyball Eclipses '07 Win Total Prior to Conference Play

By Carly Klingensmith

The Macalester volleyball team, with a record of 4-2, has had a fantastic start to their season. Prior to heartbreaking losses to Augsburg and Northwestern at the Augsburg Invitational this past Saturday, Macalester was off to a 4-0 start for the first time in over twenty years. With only three wins total last season, head coach Stephanie Schleuder expressed pleasure with her team’s progress.

“We are already ahead of where we were last season and I am extremely pleased with how we have started, Schleuder said.

The Scots most notable triumph so far was against 19th-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire at the Augsburg Invitational in Minneapolis this past Friday.

“It has been a long time since we have beaten a team that good and it gave the team confidence,” Schleuder said. “I am very proud of them.”

Their other victories were against Schreiner (Tex.) also at the Augsburg Invitational and Martin Luther and Crown at the Carleton Classic on Aug 28 and 29.

Although the team is composed of only ten players, they have exhibited good chemistry and are dedicated to working hard.

“You feel more committed to the team and like you can actually make a difference. The team depends on you more,” said co-captain Marie Godwin ’10.

The Scots are lead by captains Godwin and Erin Cusac ’10 who have both contributed greatly on and off the field. Godwin has already racked up 39 kills, 16 aces and 65 digs, while Cusac has boasted 3 aces and 27 digs.

“The captains have developed a much broader picture of their role on the team. They are focused on the big picture and not concerned with their individual play, which is exactly the role a captain should play,” Schleuder said.

Also returning to the team are Majra Mucic ’11, Jackie White ’11 and Kiera Coulter ’11. Mucic is leading the team with a .260 hit percentage and has 41 kills and 9 aces so far this season, while Coulter is holding down the libero position.

Sona Muzikarova ’09, the lone senior, has rejoined the team after studying abroad during the 07′ season. She has made a strong comeback including being named to the all tournament team at the Augsburg Invitational with 32 kills, 9 aces and 26 digs during the tournament.

“After being off for a year she is still regaining her timing and fitness level, but there is no doubt she is an outstanding player and adds to the team,” Schleuder said.

Four freshmen, Danielle Dweck ’12, Lorin Leake’12, Jessica Baier ’12 and Taylor Tinkham ’12 have joined the Scots roster and have already made great contributions. Dweck has taken on the role of setter and Tinkham has added 26 kills and 20 digs during the first six matches.

“I am really proud of our first-year teammates; they have had to fill some key positions and are doing very well,” Cusac said.

The Leonard center has also added to the team’s success, with nets that fall from the ceiling and a new machine that shoots volleyballs out at the team as hard as Olympian Misty May’s serve.

“It is a breath of fresh air after practicing at 6:00 a.m. at Cretin high school and having all our games away last season,” Schleuder said.

Godwin echoed her coaches sentiments.

“When we practice we can see people from school and people supporting us and we don’t feel like we are on our own,” Godwin said.

In addition, all of the Scot’s conference games are going to be at home this season, which is not only beneficial for those who hope to cheer on the team, but also for the team itself.

“I am hoping that that this will boost the fan turnout, and the support of the Macalester Community will feed into a successful season,” Muzikarova said.

Wednesday, September 17th is volleyball’s first conference and home game against rival Carleton. “It is a privilege and were very excited,” Schleuder said, to be part of the first intercollegiate sporting event to take place in the Leonard center.

“All members of the Macalester community should come to our match against Carleton for the chance to see the first game ever played on our new court and to see us beat them,” Cusac said.

Despite small numbers and a rocky past season, there is much excitement about the future of Macalester volleyball.

“This year, the team will be unburdened by past results, aspirations, and failures. As every year, there is a lot of skill and potential on the team, however this year our main secret to success will be the ability to work together, and support each other,” Muzikarova said.