Many coaches would be concerned with having so little experience on the roster, but IVCC volleyball coach Erin Polte is looking at it as a positive.
“I think that it can honestly be refreshing sometimes to have a completely new perspective,” said Polte, who is entering her sixth season. “I think no matter how many sophomores you have, the freshmen always look to them for leadership because they know the expectations and understand what it’s like to be part of the college experience because it’s so different.
“I definitely think the sophomores have held their own in the sense of filling leadership roles and helping the freshmen along.”
Putnam County graduate Kaitlyn Edgcomb is back for her third year with the Eagles after missing last season with an injury.
Also back are returning starter Mallery Pearson and Princeton graduate Kate Vigars, who saw limited action last season due to injury.
Putnam County graduate Presley Hatton came out for volleyball this year after playing basketball at IVCC last winter.
“We’ve really helped the freshmen get into the swing of things,” Edgcomb said. “We’re really welcoming of everyone. They feel comfortable. The atmosphere is good. We work really well together.”
Polte expects opposing teams to have difficulty putting the ball down against the Eagles with Hall graduate Gertie Savitch and former LaMoille-Ohio standout Hannah Weeks anchoring the back row.
“We have two great defensive specialists,” Polte said. “They’re both going to contribute insanely by keeping the ball off the floor.”
Savitch played setter at Hall but said she’s always enjoyed defense.
“Defense has always been a passion of mine,” Savitch said. “I’ve always loved doing that. For my first year in college, I’m willing to put it all out there and go for every ball. My teammate (Weeks) and I are going to work really hard to make sure (strong defense) happens.”
OPTIONS IN THE MIDDLE
Edgcomb will fill one of the middle hitter spots, but the Eagles have several other hitters who could play the second spot in Hatton, Princeton graduate Kaylee Hammerich — a NewsTribune Second-Team All-Area pick last year — and Ashley Mauck.
“We’re testing things out,” Edgcomb said about middle hitters. “We have four different options right now. Everyone in the front row is trying out middle this year. It’s going to benefit us a lot. Ashley being a left is going to help with our offense. Hopefully, defenses aren’t expecting that because you don’t usually see a lefty in the middle.”
RUNNING A 6-2
Last year, the Eagles were forced to run a 5-1 due to injury, but this season Polte hopes to use two setters in Vigars and Putnam County graduate Madison Solomon.
“We used just one setter last year because Kate got hurt early on,” Polte said. “She worked really hard but could never quite catch up because she was out so many weeks at a really important time in converting from being a high school player to a college player.
“I’ve always preferred to run a 6-2 rather than a 5-1 because you have more options and it’s that much harder to defend in my opinion.”
Polte’s main goal is for the team to show improvement from the start of the season to the end, which also plays into her second goal of postseason success.
“For me, I always want to be a different team at the end than when we started,” Polte said. “We should be better in every way - mentally, physically and strategically. We always have the goal to go as far as possible in the postseason.”
Edgcomb is hoping as far as possible means the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.
“For me, some goals are to just have a good season, play well for Erin and go to nationals,” Edgcomb said. “That’s our goal every year, but this year it’s a big goal for us. Hopefully, we’ll be able to achieve it with such a good team.
“We have a lot of good talent. Our back row is probably going to be better than the last two years. We have a really strong front tow with a lot of good options.”