The West Chester University volleyball team started off their season with two back- to- back tournaments. They traveled to Millersville University for Labor Day weekend to participate in the Marauder Clash, and this past weekend they hosted Ram Fest in Hollinger Field House.
These two tournaments give the Golden Rams a chance to play together before they begin conference play on Sept. 16 when they take on California (Pa.).
West Chester finished the Millersville Tournament with a 3-2 record. They won both matches against Holy Family as well as a match against Bowie St. Their two losses came against Slippery Rock and Shepherd.
The volleyball team experienced a lot of success last season with a trip to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.
Last season also saw the departure of the Rams’ key senior who heavily contributed to West Chester’s success; middle hitter Michelle Powers. Powers had a career high of 358 kills last season, which averaged out to over three kills per set.
However, West Chester still has some of their top players from last year to continue their success this year. Among them are Lexi Kegerise, Julie Boblits, Kelly Martin and Helen Fitzpatrick. Senior libero Lisa Campbell will also be an essential part of the lineup.
West Chester will rely on the performance of these veterans as well as their newcomers to re-elevate them to their expected level of success.
But the players are only part of the equation to West Chester’s winning combination. Head coach Kassie Bellaver returns to the sidelines for her sixth season with the Golden Rams. Her past two seasons were some of the most successful in the history of the program and she expects nothing less from her girls this season, regardless of who they lost from their lineup.
“Yes, Michelle [Powers] was an impact player, but we are expecting our outside hitters, Boblits and Kegerise, to step up and they have thus far,” Bellaver said. “Both of them are considered the go-to girl when they are in the front row. Cara Reese and Martin have done a great job in the middle. Our defense is strong-led by Campbell. Fitzpatrick is another strong senior who leads by example with her leadership and hustle on the court.”
The Rams got the ball rolling on their 2011 campaign. In their season opening match against Holy Family, Fitzpatrick recorded 44 assists which set up Boblits for 14 kills. Kegerise added another 13 kills and two solo blocks. Reese, who is starting her freshman season, made her presence on the squad known with four kills and six blocks. Campbell contributed 32 digs and four aces as the Golden Rams captured their season opening win.
West Chester went the full five sets with Holy Family. They went down two sets to none early (22-25, 25-27), but rallied back to grab the win by winning three consecutive sets, 25-21, 25-20, 15-12.
On the first day of Ram Fest this past weekend, West Chester split their matches, beating Chestnut Hill in their morning match, but losing to C.W. Post later in the afternoon. Although they lost their match against C.W. Post 0-3, all three sets were close (25-19, 26-24, 27-25).
West Chester went up two sets to none against Chestnut Hill before dropping a close third set 24-26. The Rams came back in the fourth set to take the match 25-21, 25-15, 24-26, 25-17. Boblits had her best match of the year so far with 19 kills. Kegerise added another 15. Fitzpatrick had 25 assists for the Rams and Mary Faust added another 16.
In their disappointing loss to C.W. Post, Boblits added another ten kills for the Rams.
The Rams sailed through their second day of the tournament by not dropping a single set. They beat Lincoln and Philadelphia University 3-0 in both matches.
In their Saturday morning match against Lincoln, West Chester received nine aces from Dana Markol and 20 assists from Helen Fitzpatrick. The Rams took the match 25-7, 25-14, 25-8.
West Chester met up against Philadelphia University for their last match of Ram Fest on Saturday afternoon inside Hollinger Field House. Kegerise had ten kills for the Rams while Reese added another nine. The Rams took the match 25-22, 25-15, 25-17.
Kegerise leads the team in kills with 77. Boblits is close behind her, with 75.
West Chester finished their home tournament with a 3-1 record. This brings their season record to 6-3.
The win against Lincoln was an extra piece of positive momentum that the Rams needed going into their next match. They will rematch Lincoln on Tuesday when they travel for their first of five consecutive away games.
West Chester hits the road for their first four conference games before coming home to go head-to-head with Holy Family for the third time this year on Sept. 20. Their first home conference match is against Shippensburg on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
Amy Festa is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.