This Saturday, the Goshen College men’s volleyball team will open their season with a game against Lakeland University at home. They will debut their season with new leadership and new faces. Last season, the Leafs managed an overall record of 9-12 and a conference record of 7-11; they are currently ranked No. 7 in the WHAC preseason poll.Jeff Phillips is new at the helm, taking on the positions of head coach and director of volleyball this year. Accompanying him is Wyatt Bollinger ’23, a former setter who has stepped up to take on a role as associate head coach. Both coaches are excited for the season to be underway and have some big plans.
At the end of last year, Christian Rodríguez, Andy Bennett, Juan Llama and Wyatt Bollinger finished their time playing at GC. The Leafs’ returning players are Ian Fox, Ishmail Bangura, Alex Koscher, Leo Minetto, Hasan Hadzic, Kendrick Acda, Insee Akarapan and Pablo Sanchez. They also welcomed a new class: Jonny Arias, a transfer sophomore, and first-years Bruno Barac, Igor Sapucaia, Sun Banchasawan, Sawyer Frystak, Avery Laforce and Ben Koop.
Ian Fox, a fifth-year, is excited for these athletes to be on board. “We have a good amount of freshmen, which can be scary, but they’ve got it,” he said. “They have a lot of good energy. It’s very fun to be with them.”
Gearing up for their season, they are mostly working on their serve and receive game. Alex Koscher, a senior, said, “We’ve been connecting really well as a team: our block is strong, hitting is strong and our defense is great.”
Bollinger said that “a little bit of growth every day is the best goal to have for your athletes.
“A conference title would mean the world to them and everybody involved,” he continued. “It’s cool because it’s definitely an attainable goal for us this year. I think we can do some really impressive things.”
Arias is enjoying the time with his new team. “I’m loving the close-knit dynamic and being involved with everybody,” he said. “The goal is to keep getting better — every day we’re getting better in practice.”
Minetto, a senior, also built on this mindset, adding, “I’d like to see us just be together and play the best we can. Everybody is trying to play at their best; we have a good team and we are going to play together.”
Phillips had nothing but positive things to say about the team and their upcoming season. “We feel really good about the positions we filled and their capabilities,” he said. “Our athletes know that we can be a good team. For one, I think we’re better than seventh. For two I think the team, roster-wise, is significantly different and we can see it on the court and build off of those successes and failures. We’re really excited in terms of what we have as a team.”
Both coaches are optimistic about the season. “Come on out, we’re going to be fun to watch,” Bollinger said. “It’s going to be a good year.”