Credit: Seton Hall Athletics photo

Seton Hall University volleyball coach Allison Yaeger said she was optimistic heading into this season. She feels this is an up-and-coming program, and the current players are a stellar combination of talented, kind-hearted and competitive.

“Finally, all the puzzle pieces that we need are starting to come together,” said Yaeger. “This is truly a very unique and special group.”

Last weekend, Seton Hall played in the Big Apple Tournament at Columbia University and emerged victorious. The Pirates defeated Iona College, St. Francis College and Columbia to grow its winning streak to seven matches. These successes came despite the youth and relative inexperience of the players as well as three starters out with injuries. In addition to health precautions, the schedule has been designed to keep travel at a minimum.

Next weekend, Seton Hall heads to Florida for the UNF Invitational. Yaeger is hopeful that the injured starters will be healed in time for Big East conference play, which begins on September 24. The commitment of the players and coaching staff was seen in how they reacted to opening the season with three losses. They watched a lot of film and made strategic changes.

“We’re jumping over a lot of hurdles that I didn’t plan on jumping over,” said Yaeger. “This team is the team to do it with. This team is very open-minded and they’re good with change. If I need to switch a line-up up, they’re good with it. We want to win.”

The players celebrate every single point like it’s the championship point of the Big East Tournament, noted Yaeger. That enthusiasm fuels the young team. Given that every student-athlete who played during 2020-21 gets an additional year of eligibility, Yaeger is looking forward to a bright future with these players. 

Due to the pandemic, women’s volleyball was played last spring, rather than in fall 2020. Typically, volleyball teams use the spring to develop new skills and address issues that arose during the fall season. Yaeger said playing this past spring did not disrupt player progress, and she’s glad the players didn’t miss an entire year.

“I knew that last year’s freshmen would be my starters this fall, so to have that mini-season…gave them more experience on the court for this season that really matters,” Yaeger said. “Everything was very chaotic and pushed, but I do feel we learned a lot from the spring to be the team we want to be this fall.”