WVB: Wilkes set to face King’s in home opener tonight

After not playing a game for almost a year and a half, the women’s volleyball team will begin their exhibition season this month. In their last go around, they finished 16-16 and will be looking to build off of that success this year.

Tonight, Wilkes will face crosstown rival King’s College at 7 p.m. in the Marts Center. Wilkes last competed against the Monarchs on Oct. 16, 2019, where the Colonels fell 3-0.

Wilkes last beat King’s in October of 2014. 

“This season is definitely a building year for us, and it’s made me really excited to see what the future will hold,” said sophomore middle hitter Allie Murie. “We’re a very young and strong team and know we can only progress.”

With only three upperclassmen on the roster, the Colonels are looking to take advantage of this shortened season to help their younger players gain experience that will help them in their fall season. 

“We have a lot of young talent,” said senior captain Kristie Najdek. “Our team is mostly made up of (first-years) and sophomores, so I am trying to push the girls to try their best. This will lead to success for their upcoming fall season.” 

With only five games on the schedule this spring, it is important for the Colonels to capitalize on their opportunity to play during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These games are critical in helping to grow each player’s abilities as they prepare for a more normal fall season.

“We are taking advantage of this extended non-traditional season,” said head coach Joseph Czopek. “It gives our seniors a season to play while developing the rest of the team.”

Although the team is young, the talent is there to compete in the conference this year. Czopek is confident in his younger players and wants to see them develop as much as possible. 

“Some strengths of our team in general is our flexibility and passion,” said junior captain Laura  Booths. “All of our girls have passion for the game. I love seeing and hearing the cheering we have for one another when we are crushing it.”

If Wilkes wants to compete in the loaded MAC Conference, then they need the correct mindset to get better every day.

“You need both physical and mental toughness to play a sport, so it is important to focus on games and even practices mentally so we can get in that mindset during games to win,” said Booths. “I like to relate to my team, telling them to continue to push through our tough workouts because yes we are all tired, but it will help us be so much stronger in the end.”

Wilkes’ younger players have caught on quickly and are embracing getting better everyday. 

Appreciation is the one thing that has been emphasized throughout the team. The players, specifically the seniors, are grateful to compete since their 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are excited to have competitions to play this spring after losing the fall season, especially for our seniors,” said Czopek.

With a young and talented team, and the right mindset being instilled early, the Colonels are aiming to compete for a championship, not just this year but for years to come.