The Goshen College men’s volleyball team started their season off strong, defeating Trine University at Indiana Tech last Friday, after a season-opening sweep over Hiram College at home the previous Saturday. They continued their winning streak on Tuesday, beating both Trinity Christian and Olivet Nazarene. 

“I’m pleased with how they’ve played the past four matches,” said Lauren Ford, the new men’s volleyball head coach, who was hired this past summer. “We’ve worked so hard on a lot of things and I see a lot of it translating onto the court in tiny ways.”

On Friday night, the Goshen College team beat Trine University in four sets, winning a particularly close first set 30-28. The Maple Leafs struggled through the second set and lost 23-25, but they quickly came back and won the next two sets. 

The victory over Trine University was truly a team achievement, with four players winning “player of the match” for the Maple Leafs. Lucas Sauder and Alex Rabadhiez led the team with 17 kills, while Brayton Yoder had 19 digs. Michael Wahl also played a key role for the Leafs with 42 assists.

Andy Bennet dominated the net with 8 blocks; the total number of blocks Trine had as a team. In addition, Christian Rodriguez had a successful match, contributing 10 kills and 8 digs. 

It is not a coincidence that all five of these players are seniors or returning graduate students. “I think the main thing that is leading to our team’s success so far this season would be our leadership and experience playing the game,” said Yoder. 

“Having the majority of the team return from last year and many of those being seniors brings a lot of game time experience that we rely on in long matches.” 

Although the team has had a lot of success in the past (over a .600 winning percentage the past two years), Ford has hopes for even more improvement. 

“I think they are learning a lot of volleyball IQ at once and being able to take that and translate it onto the court is huge,” he said. 

Despite the large number of veterans on the team, “there is still a lot of growth that is happening,” Ford said. The experience and leadership on the team is something he gets excited about while coaching this team. 

“They’re a well established group,” said Ford. “I’m learning about all the players differently and how to coach them individually to make them better.” 

In addition, the new coach is excited for the visible progress from practice to games. “I get excited when I see them do the small things that we talk about.”

Although the team’s fiery start shows they are working on the right things, there is much more to accomplish. “Fundamentals is a big thing that I think is overlooked in the men’s game,” said Ford. “It’s all about attacking and being physical. “I think [our fundamentals] actually helped us and I think it will help us during the season.”