Volleyball looks promising after revamping roster

By Jack Wickham

To put it simply, the volleyball team was unlucky last year. After starting the season with four wins, they went on a tremendous losing streak that lasted the entire season, finishing out the year with a 4-24 record. This was not for lack of talent. The women played multiple teams to five games, meaning they held on until the very end. Also notable is that the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) was the most competitive Division III conference last year, with more ranked teams than any other conference.This year, the Scots are hoping to be stronger. With a different starting lineup, a new offense, and six new players, the team will be a much different one than last fall.

The season is already off to a fresh start. The Scots have amassed a 3-6 record so far, having played no MIAC teams. Perhaps most notable was their win against Lawrence College, a tight game in which all sets but the last were won by no more than three points.

The biggest loss for the Scots this year was no doubt the graduation of Sonia Muzikarova ’09. A tremendous outside hitter from Bratislava, Muzikarova was named MIAC rookie of the year in 2005, placed on the all-MIAC first team in 2006, and chosen as Macalester MVP in 2008. Though she was not named to the 2008 all-MIAC team (and was abroad in 2007), she still managed to set the 2008 MIAC season record for most kills in a match, with 31 against then-ranked Gustavus Adolphus College. She was also a notable contributor on defense, ranking fourth in digs per set, and third in blocks per set during the 2008 season.

In an effort to make up for that loss, the Scots have revamped and are running a different type of offense this year. In a 5-1 formation, which is what the women practiced last year, there is only one setter (the person who sets up the ball for the hitters to spike or tip). This year, in the new 6-2 offense, there are two setters. When they are not setting, they are in the front row, presumably to hit.

Setting this year are last year’s libero Kiera Coulter ’11 and Steffanie Fisher ’13. Both are looking promising, the latter averaging 4.97 assists per set. The rest of the offense looks strong as well. Marie Godwin ’10 and rookie Anna Trier ’13 are the starting outside hitters, and Erin Cusac ’10 and Majra Mucic ’11 are playing middle hitter and right-side hitter, respectively. Coming in as a libero is Glasha Marcon ’13. Though her strength is defense, it is worth noting that Marcon is also ranked ninth in the MIAC for serving aces.

The team does, however, have room to improve. Coulter has not been a setter since eighth grade, and Mucic and Cusac normally play each other’s positions. It’s been difficult for the team to really find their rhythm, due largely to these adjustments.

“We have a lot of people playing out of position,” Marcon said. “It might take a while for us to click, but everyone is working really hard and we have a lot of talent.”

The women remain positive about their potential, however.

“We’re playing three freshman,” Coulter said. “The team chemistry is really good. We have an awesome class of freshmen, and team bonding has not been an issue, which works in our favor.”

With the new lineup and the new offense, it will be interesting to see how the team handles MIAC competition. If and when, however, the women fall into sync, it is easy to imagine them being one of the better teams in the league.