WVB: Lineup switch proves efficient in win over FDU-Florham


Seth Platukis

Senior Michele Natale (left) and sophomore Karlye Huffman (right) watch in anticipation during their 3-0 sweep against FDU.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Wilkes defeated opponent FDU-Florham in a 3-0 sweep. Despite the ease that appears to come with a sweep, the Colonels made some major adjustments to secure the victory.

In the first match of the game, Wilkes shook things up against their opponent, changing the starting lineup in hopes of being successful. 

“We changed our lineup and went to last year’s lineup,” said head coach Joe Czopek. “Our changes were backward and it seemed to get our flow back. We played a little more cohesively.”

This lineup shift allowed the Colonels to click on their offensive attacks. Two seven-point serving runs made the first set an effortless 25-7 win. This adjustment worked in Wilkes’ favor, demonstrating how sometimes good things shouldn’t be changed. 

The exception to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality: freshman middle hitter Emily Lass. 

Lass made her debut as a serving sub in the contest. Not being a usual member of the starting lineup, Czopek warned Lass that she would be in this crucial role ahead of time. 

“Yesterday, Coach Czopek told me that I was going to be a serving sub,” said Lass. “I was kind of thinking about it all day and how it would be my job to keep the spot coming off the bench and make sure my serves go in.” 

Lass noted that it was nerve-wracking to be told ahead of time about her responsibilities, knowing that her main objective was to be successful in serving.

However, Lass dealt with the pressure and tackled the responsibility that comes with being a serving sub.  

“I just hit it as hard as I could and hoped for the best,” reflected Lass. 

In the second set, the Devils attempted to seek revenge for their poor showing in the first set, but Lass’ serving efforts were stronger than the Devils were prepared for. Behind Lass’ command, the Colonels powered through the second set and got the 25-22 dub. 

Lass proved that her serves and defensive play were indispensible, making Czopek’s decision to alter the usual starting lineup a success. 

In the final set of the Wilkes-FDU matchup, both teams had rough starts. The Colonels had several short scoring runs that were disrupted by multiple attacks from the Devils. 

Despite these struggles, Wilkes prevailed with a score of 25-16 to complete the final set of the evening, and ultimately snag the victory against the Devils. 

With a .386 hitting average, the Colonels reached a season-high. Senior outside hitter Alex Ferrier was the hitting leader on the evening, recording 13 kills. Senior middle hitter Michele Natale followed close behind with 10 kills. Their efforts combined presented a challenge for the Devils’ defense. 

On Wilkes’ defensive end, however, junior middle hitter Christie Challenger led the team with three blocks to stifle several FDU scoring runs.

“I went up there and tried my best to read the setter as best I could,” noted Challenger. “We work on blocking a lot in practice and I know we are all picking up our blocking to help our defense out.”

In addition to Challenger’s efforts, senior defensive specialist (libero) Julie Murphy led the team with eight digs. Freshman defensive specialist Caitlin Bower and senior opposite hitter Jamey Mikovich also had notable contributions on defense with seven and six digs, respectively. 

These performances led to a win for the Colonels that broke a five-match losing streak Wilkes had against FDU-Florham. 

Czopek credited this to the newfound rhythm his team demonstrated on the court. 

“We played some younger girls to get them experience and into the rhythm,” said Czopek. “Last match, we put in our starting rotation and it made a difference.”

Czopek was not the only Wilkes member to notice this adjustment, as Challenger and Lass both felt a difference on the floor. 

“I think we are starting to get our rhythm back,” commented Challenger. “We had a slump there for a while, and I think this game is going to let us roll into more wins in the future.”

This message was not far off for Lass as well, as she cited this game as a turnaround opportunity for the season. 

“I think we are all getting better as a team and connecting better, which I think is helping us out a lot in our success,” said Lass. 

This victory was the first of the Colonels four-game week, snagging two additional wins against Farmingdale State and John Jay with their new lineup strategy.

The Colonels will take to the court again tomorrow night in a conference matchup against Delaware Valley with hopes to improve their 10-8 record.