By Izzy Woods & Pat Carbone – 1851 Contributors
Twelve first-year players have joined the women’s volleyball team this season: Emily Cerasani, Ashlee Long, Camila Lopez, Mckenna McCool, Hope McFall, Juliana Medini, Sabine Milton, Sasia Neerman-Hinds, Tori Scambray, Madalyn Scully, Mia Sullivan-Sanders, and Emily VanHouten.
With the season in its final weeks, coaches are witnessing the impressive capabilities of these young athletes. As of October 27, the team has a 13-11 record which included a six-game winning streak to start the month of October. The last time the team reached 12 wins before mid-October was 15 years ago in 2006. Following the stretch, they cooled off losing five of six matches.
“The freshmen that are here, they’re all amazing athletes,” said Milton, one of the many first-years on the team. Milton, and teammate McCool, were each named Great Northeast Athletic Conference’s (GNAC) Rookies of the Week earlier this season. Milton has led the charge at the net this season registering a team-high 252 kills. (The next closest is Scambray with 188.)
“Right now our team is doing a lot better than we did a couple of seasons ago. I want to take it to the top of the conference, I want us to win the GNAC, I want us to go all the way,” said Milton.
The team is currently seventh in the GNAC with a conference record of 5-5, after holding the fourth spot in the standings as recently as October 21. The team hasn’t won more than eight conference games in a season since 2007 when they went 10-3 under 20-year head coach Mary Tom. Three more conference games remain on the Laser’s schedule, if the team can return to their winning ways from the beginning of the month, they have a chance to at least tie many of those previous teams’ conference records.
Senior setter Jess Langan has been a key piece of the women’s volleyball team since her first year, recently recording career assist 2,000 on October 21 in a 3-2 loss against Rhode Island College. She is one of only five upperclassmen that makes up the 17 athletes on the roster.
“It was definitely difficult at first, we’ve never had a team with that many freshmen coming in,” said Langan. “As upperclassmen, I’d say most of us just try and be welcoming and open.”
Langan said the fact that much of the team is young doesn’t discount their work ethic. “They’re super hard working, it’s definitely not easy coming in as a freshman and having to start. It’s a huge role on the team to have to play and you have to be mentally prepared and physically prepared and I think they played that role really well,” said Langan.
Head coach and former Laser Jeff Vautrin (‘17) said these first-year student-athletes are some of the best Lasell has ever recruited. “Our best player in program history was [around] a 3.5 star on Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), and eight of the 12 girls this year are four stars or above,” said Vautrin. “Then the other four that aren’t four stars are above that 3-3.5 rating,” said Vautrin.
The former player Vautrin referred to is Olivia Addington (‘19) who has her name embroidered on the “Volleyball Milestones” banner in the athletic center. She finished her career with 1,325 kills (second all-time in Lasell history) and missed only two matches during all four years as a Laser.
If Addington was the best player in women’s volleyball history at Lasell, then the next four years could have Laser fans in a euphoric state with all the possible talent. “When they’re focused, they are a very good team [with a] really bright future ahead of them,” said Vautrin. Like Milton, Vautrin hopes to lead his team to the top of the GNAC.
“I’m hoping that our athletes know I’m very happy with them so far, but I hope they continue to work hard,” said Vautrin.