The women’s volleyball team has seen a ton of growth since the hiring of Coach Rob Wingert.
Wingert, a former All-American setter at Stevenson University in Maryland, became the first full-time head coach in Misericordia volleyball history, and has seen improvements every year under his watchful eye.
His players have bought into his philosophy, and the Cougars have recently gone on a 12-game winning streak, dropping only six total sets during those 12 games.
The team coming together has played a major factor in this success.
“There’s so much chemistry on the team, even though there are so many of us,” said Karley May, senior setter and mid-level education with a concentration in science and social studies major. “Usually, that makes a lot of little cliques, but we are all just one big family, literally. Nobody has any problems or anything. We just have such good chemistry on and off the court.”
May, who is the team’s all-time leader in assists in a season, has seen the Cougars go from a team that could not win 10 games during her first year to a team that looks to make noise in the postseason.
Wingert believes the key to the team’s success has come from every member of the roster.
“I think the two main factors we have as we return for 2019 was the work that our returners put in over the summer, making sure that 2018 wasn’t a blip on the radar and that we had some sustained success coming back in 2019,” he said. “Also, we brought in a really talented freshman class to push that group, whether it be during practice or push us on the court with an upgrade at a couple of positions.”
The season did not start out the way the team expected, as it lost its first three contests in the Moravian Greyhound Classic, including losing two games in five sets.
Instead of finger pointing and turning on each other, the women continued to work together and believe in Wingert’s message.
“We had a rough start to the season and we came back into the gym and really focused on just making the play that was in front of you and not trying to do too much. The girls really took ownership of that. We got contributions from just about every player on our 23-person roster and it helped us get a couple of wins along the way,” said Wingert.
A couple of wins is an understatement, as the team rallied to 12 victories and put the rest of the conference on notice.
For May, the win streak proved how much can be accomplished when everyone works together.
“A team can have as much talent as it wants, but if you don’t play well together, you’re not going to get anywhere,” she said.
Regular season success is one thing, but playoff volleyball is a different animal. The team made it to MAC Freedom Tournament last year, but has hopes of going beyond MAC Freedom play.
“Our goal for the 2019 season is to win the MAC Conference and head to NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. We talked about it a lot, and that’s how we are defining success for the 2019 season,” said Wingert.
Wingert and May share similar goals, although May has a particular opponent she would like to see in the MAC Freedom playoffs.
“Hopefully, we’ll face off against Eastern. We had a loss to them the other night, but we were so close so, hopefully, we get to go back, see them and beat them and move on with the NCAA tournament,” she said.
If the team can continue playing as one, there may be no beating it in the postseason. It will certainly not be easy for the Cougars, but the team is determined to make history this year.