The Goshen College men’s volleyball team is officially off to its best start in program history. The team has jump-started their season with an 8-4 record, and are currently riding a three-game win streak following last weekend’s matchups against Judson University, Webber International University and Lincoln College, where they beat all three teams 3-0. 

Since the season began, the Leafs have managed to climb their way to the top in several statistical categories. The Leafs are currently ranked number two in total digs (450) and total blocks (103), number three in total service aces (75), and number seven in total kills with 428.

The team has recorded the second-highest ranking in program history coming in at 14th in the NAIA coaches poll, just behind their 13th place ranking achieved on Jan. 27.  

The team has also garnered a handful of individual awards this week as middle blocker Andy Bennett was named WHAC Defender of the Week with 17 blocks. The other notable player-performance for the week was Everence Student-Athlete of the Week, outside hitter Alexander Rabadzhiev, who led the Maple Leafs to victory in their latest tournament with 42 kills in four games. 

“It always feels good when hard work pays off and the team is being recognized for its performance,” Rabadzhiev said. “It also motivates us to keep getting better and try our best at climbing up the rankings. Being in the top 15 teams nationally is prestigious and we are grateful for the opportunity to compete with the best.” 

The team has had a hot start and it’s players and coaching staff are hoping that it will only get better as they plot their goals for the remainder of the season.

“As of right now, we are focused on performing well in every single match and playing with great energy,” Rabadzhiev said. “We would definitely be excited to compete in the WHAC conference tournament.”

While head coach Jim Daughtery is impressed with the team’s current ranking, he emphasized that where the Maple Leafs rank won’t affect the teams overall play. 

“I believe our guys are motivated to compete and win every time we play, whether we are ranked or not. Being ranked is a part of our plan. They are excited to play either way,” Daugherty said. 

The team knows the final stretch of games won’t be easy however, as Rabadzhiev noted that being in a tough conference such as the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference means that other teams will be fighting to climb the rankings as well. Other WHAC schools such as Indiana Tech and Lourdes University (who handed Goshen one of their four losses) are currently ranked above Goshen College at the ninth and 13th spots respectively, with ten games yet to play.

The Leafs travel Aquinas College in Adrian, Michigan for a conference matchup on Friday, Feb. 19.