Lady Bullets volley for another strong season
By Elizabeth Hilfrank, Sports Editor
The Gettysburg College Volleyball team arrived on campus two weeks ago today for its preseason. With five first-years adding to the squad, the team is one of the largest in program history.
On Sunday, August 19 the Bullets returned to Bream Gym for double sessions of practice every day. Since then, they have been busy touring the new Bullet Hole, watching the Solar Eclipse, doing pool workouts…and a little bit of volleyball on the side.
Names to watch for as returning members to the squad include senior Steph Blair. Blair is returning in hopes of keeping her reign as top defensive setter in the Centennial Conference, a title she earned last fall. Blair also reigns sixth in program history for assists with a total of 2,467 thus far.
Sophomore Francesca Garison will also make her return this season after a successful first year earning the title of “breakout performer” for the team. Garison reigns as team leader for kills (279), points (307.5) and hitting percentage (.242).
The starting libero, senior Katherine Gilbert, will also be returning for one final season. Gilbert hit the 1,000 digs milestone during the 2016 season and finished eighth in the conference for this role. Gilbert also earned the Centennial Conference all-Sportsmanship award for the season.
“We have a great group of leaders who are dedicated to our culture and making the team the best that we can be this year,” said Head Coach Leah Bernier. “We also have a strong freshmen and sophomore class who are all very talented and will bring a lot of intensity to the program.”
Coach Bernier enters her eighth season with 113 wins under her belt. She crossed the 100 wins milestone last fall in a match against Marywood University.
Coach Bernier is a graduate of the University of Maine where she played for its Division I volleyball team.
Besides the first-years, another new addition to the team will be assistant coach Jenn McMonagle. Graduating from the Pennsylvania State University at Mont Alto, McMonagle stayed there to coach before coming to Gettysburg.
With the large new group of team members this season, there is hope for a very successful season with the ability to rotate players.
The lady Bullets finished sixth in the Centennial Conference last season, losing to Johns Hopkins 3-1 in the final match-up of the season. Gettysburg was then remiss of a spot on the play-off schedule.
The Gettysburg volleyball team lost only one senior to graduation. Now alumna Laura Bergin had a great impact on the team this past fall, earning her third consecutive All-Centennial Conference Second Team honor of her career in addition to exceeding 1000 kills in her career.
With two new outside hitters on the team, first years Maddie Buerle and Allie Stranick, in addition to returning sophomores Kate Davis, Kasey Higgins and senior Maddie Weikart, there is confidence in a strong continuation of the program.
With a series of injuries battled by the team in previous seasons due to a lighter density of the team, it is the hope that the girls will return healthy with the added members.
“We are excited to have a larger roster this year than we ever have before,” said Coach Bernier. “We look forward to it bringing a lot gym, as well as allowing our players to have much needed breaks during practice so that we can stay healthy all season.”
The lady Bullets recently released their full schedule for the season, which includes a balanced amount of home versus away games.
The team’s season will officially kick off this afternoon with the Battlefield Classic. Hosted by Gettysburg College, the two-day event begins in Bream Gym Friday at 3:00 p.m. with a face-off between Gettysburg and Arcadia University.