Men’s volleyball sets sights on GNAC

By Cassidy Murray – 1851 Staff

Sophomore Saunoa Afoa leaps to return a ball during a match against Springfield College on March 7. Photo courtesy of Lasell Athletics

The Lasell men’s volleyball team started its 2017 season with a bang, winning nine straight matches and dropping only one set to Endicott College at the Johnson and Wales University Invitational. Even after losing their first match at Ramapo College the Lasers continued on to win seven straight matches. At the time of publication the team is 19-4 and 4-0 in conference play.

“I think we’ve had a great start so far and we want to keep building on it,” said Head Coach Tom Olson.

Multiple players have received Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) honors this season. Freshman Janci Soto has been awarded GNAC Rookie of the Week twice and sophomore Jordan Aprea received GNAC Defensive Player of the Week three times so far this season. “It feels good and it makes you want to work harder for the team,” said Aprea. Aprea is ranked third in the GNAC with 179 total digs and 2.52 per set.

Senior Tristan Davis has also received multiple GNAC honors early on. He was awarded GNAC Offensive Player of the Week three times as well as American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA)Player of the Week. Davis leads the GNAC in total number of kills with 212 in total and 3.03 per set.

“It was cool telling my parents and my grandma was really excited too, so that was awesome. There’s obviously a team aspect as well—I’m glad a Lasell player was awarded AVCA player of the week,” said Davis. Both Aprea and Davis said that receiving these awards encourages them to “work even harder at achieving their overall personal and team goals.”

The Lasers began the season ranked 15th in the AVCA Division III Top 15 poll during the week number three poll. They have worked their way up to the number twelve spot these past few weeks.

Senior Patrick MacDonald said, “The last three years we were always on the fringe and it’s good to finally get recognized and make it past number 17 or 16, finally making it in the top 15.” MacDonald is a co-captain for his final year as a Laser.

The team plans to continue working hard toward their overall team goal: winning a second GNAC championship and staying healthy in the process. Injuries have been a problem over the past few seasons but with workouts outside of practice and the help of the athletic training staff, the team is doing well.

“I’m just trying to make it through the season, that’s my biggest goal, I just want to play,” said senior and co-captain Jeff Vautrin, who is battling ongoing injuries after missing most of last season with an ankle injury.

The team’s connection has played a big role in how successful they have been this season.“They’re a close-knit bunch, and I think that’s one of their strengths,” said Olson. “They’re able to communicate well with each other and be open with each other, which makes a difference.”

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