Kean men’s volleyball team opens season with winning record
By Sara Ridgway | Published Feb 8, 2017
Starting their season with a bang, the Kean men’s volleyball team is currently 7-2 after defeating the seventh ranked team in the nation, Nazareth College.
Currently ranked at ten in the country, the team is projected to capture the Skyline Conference title for the sixth consecutive season.
The team returned to campus for preseason on Jan. 2, 2017 and opened their season with the Kean Winter Classic tournament, where they went 4-0. Junior, athletic training major, Steve Schrank feels that preseason is a time for the team to bond and build a family-like atmosphere.
“Preseason is always an interesting experience because it’s two weeks before school starts, the only thing on our mind is volleyball for those two weeks,” Schrank said, “it’s a time where all we are focused on is practice and getting better and keeping our bodies healthy while going through three practices a day.”
The team has only picked up losses to no. 14 Rivier University and division I team New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
This years team consists of six juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen. Head coach Charlie Ginex is assisted by Kean volleyball alumni Jimmy Pompeo, Ed Jedziniak and Bez Arslani.
With such a young team, there are big roles to be fulfilled and as per Schrank and fellow junior teammate Nick Breslin, some of their teammates are doing just that.
“I think our junior middle blocker, Jared Warner, stepped up tremendously early on this season by not only taking a leadership role but he has also made significant impact in our offense as well,” Breslin said.
Schrank particularly spoke highly of the new additions to the team this season: the freshmen.
“We asked a lot out of our freshmen and there were moments in this season that we asked three freshmen to take a starting job and perform at a level that is ten in the nation and they always did a good job,” Schrank said, “it’s a tough spot to be put in.”
The team faced a rocky start on Friday, January 27 for the first day of the Clash at Kean tournament, where they dropped a three-set match to Rivier University. Coming off of a loss and preparing for two more matches the following day can be a challenge.
“We couldn’t dwell on the past too much knowing that we had two great teams to play the next day, despite coming from a loss,” Breslin said. “We really tried to just focus on what we had control over, and that was the next game.”
Schrank added that the loss on Friday served as a wake up call for the team to come together as a family and focus on the task at hand.
From Friday night to Saturday morning, it was evident that there was a drastic change in the energy, from the players on the court, to those on the sidelines.
“After Friday’s loss, we came together as a team and realized that we are all one unit, every single one of us are part of this family and if one of us slacks, it causes all of us to slack,” Schrank said. “I thought everybody on Saturday bought into the system and it showed on both the bench and court.”
The team travelled to Massachusetts on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 for the weekend to compete in two matches. With a solid start to the season, the team is continuing on its journey to picking up another conference championship title and potentially its first national championship title.