With a new semester came a new Goshen College men’s volleyball season. The team came into the season looking to start a new campaign with six freshmen on the 14 man roster. Over the first seven games, the team’s record stood at three wins and four losses. 

Players and coaches traveled to St. Mary-of-the-Woods College this past Friday to take part in a tri-match that consisted of a game against St. Mary on Friday evening, and two games against St. Mary and Brescia University on Saturday.

In Goshen’s first game against St. Mary-of-the-Woods, the Maple Leafs went down two sets to start the game, with Goshen middle blocker Hasan Hadzic, a junior, getting a red card. The Maple Leafs rallied and won the next two sets, which forced a fifth set. St. Mary-of-the-Woods took the final set and won the game. 

On Saturday, Goshen faced St. Mary yet again, aiming to take back the win. This match didn’t last as long, with St. Mary winning in three sets. Standout players for the two games against St. Mary were Ishmail Bangura,  a sophomore, Ben Koop, a first-year, and Igor Sapucaia, a first-year.  Koop said, “it may have been some underestimation, as well as a loss of mental focus.” Sawyer Frystak, a freshman, added that “[St. Mary-of-the-Woods’] are a good team, and their record is 7-2 for a reason.”

The second game on Saturday was against Brescia University. The Leafs led the whole first set, with the first look at opposition coming in the second set as Brescia took a two point lead to start. Goshen came back to win the second and third sets, sweeping Brescia. Standout performers against Brescia were Hadzic, Bangura and Bruno Barac, a first-year. 

“It was a great way to rebound after some disappointing results, and we played some really good volleyball,” Frystak said about the win.

After the weekend’s results and their loss against Indiana Tech on Tuesday night, the team’s record stands at four wins and seven losses.

Jeff Phillips, Goshen’s volleyball director, is trying to steer the program towards the future. “We are trying to look to the long term while continuing to push this current team to reach its potential this season,” he said. With so many new faces and a focus on the future, the season can come with struggles along the way. 

So far, against conference teams, Goshen has yet to claim their first victory. Additionally, three of their seven losses have come in five sets. These aren’t all negatives for Phillips, though: “I am less concerned about losing these matches in five sets than I am about our guys learning why they made it to five sets in the first place,” Phillips said. “Working on playing at a consistent level throughout a match has been a weakness so far this year, but with our inexperience at key positions, not an unexpected one.”  

As it’s still the beginning of the season, hopes remain high. “I … want [the team] to understand that they are talented enough to put together some legitimate volleyball this year and compete with anyone,” Phillips said. “It is important to continue to strive for the best results we can this season while also recognizing the impact on our future.”

The team has the opportunity to increase their winning record in the coming week, with three upcoming games against Siena Heights University, Lawrence Tech University and Wabash College. Both Siena Heights and Lawrence Tech are conference games that will be played at home. 

Come on you Leafs!