By Gabi Eglinton, Contributing Writer
The Gettysburg College Volleyball team celebrated their one-thousandth win since the program’s initiation following its victories against Kenyon College during the Battlefield Classic last weekend.
The Bullets are only the second team in the Centennial Conference to reach this milestone. Since its founding in 1976, Gettysburg College Volleyball now holds a record of 1000-425-4.
The 1000th win was part of Gettysburg’s overall victory in its own annual tournament.
“I think that the 1000th win is such a great historical moment for the program as a whole,” said Head Coach Leah Bernier. “The girls were excited to have been a part of that moment and now they will just keep pushing forward to start on the next 1000!”
In a series of four well-fought matches, Gettysburg won 12 of 15 sets to sweep the slate.
The entire 18-member squad came ready to play, and the defense was exceptionally strong.
“Right now I feel that our greatest asset is currently our defense,” said Coach Bernier. “In volleyball, keeping the ball off your floor is the first step to winning. If the other team can’t find your floor, they can’t score!”
Yet the defense cannot do it all, and Coach Bernier is aware of the need for a diverse skill set.
“Follow that up with our great setting and smart hitters who can put the ball away and I feel like it’s going to be a great season!” Bernier said.
Friday brought about a 3-1 win against Arcadia University and another victory versus Bethany College. The Bullets had yet to face their strongest opponents of the tournament, however.
Gallaudet University and Kenyon College posed difficult threats Saturday, but the Bullets rallied for the occasion. These games showcased the team’s natural cohesion, with senior setter Stephanie Blair as a driving force behind the camaraderie on the court. Her high energy and well-placed sets lent to a 3-1 win against the Gallaudet Bison.
Blair also marked her own 1000th milestone Saturday when she reached 1,000 career digs during the opening match versus the Bison. This achievement combined with 2,500 career assists logs Blair as only the fourth Bullet in history to hit these numbers.
Blair was also named to the All-Tournament team based on the weekend success. In total, Blair logged 42 assists over the two-day battle.
These assists were met by stellar hits from sophomore Kasey Higgins, who, over the course of the tournament, struck 39 kills and 5 blocks.
Later that day, the women went on to shut out Kenyon College. Although this was the team’s toughest competition, a combination of communication and fluidity at the net led to 3 match wins and 0 losses.
This would be the game that brought the Bullets to 1000.
“This game was a big milestone,” said first year Allie Stranick.
Stranick was a key player on the court over the weekend, providing the Bullets with 31 kills and 31 digs on opening day.
“These wins are only possible through the team culture,” said Stranick. “Our seniors do a really good job of reminding us to keep the positive energy on and off the court.”
The seniors mentioned include Maddie Weikert, who contributed to Friday’s wins with a career-high 12 kills, and libero Katherine Gilbert.
Gilbert maintained steadfast control of the back row with 20 digs and a multitude of spectacular saves.
“I have high expectations for this season” Stranick said. “the goal is to win our conference championship and to push ourselves to be the best that we can be.”
Stranick’s early success on the court earned her the title of the Centennial Conference Volleyball Player of the Week.
The lady Bullets will compete again this weekend at the Rowan tournament in Glassboro, New Jersey, where they will face off against Widener University, Dickinson College, and Rowan University.