HUNTINGDON, Pa.- For the Juniata men's volleyball team, this season is about new beginnings. That is the case for the seven freshmen joining the Eagles. It is also a new beginning for first-year head coach Glenn DeHaven.
"The biggest thing for me is that the guys are working really hard," noted DeHaven. "We've gotten better and that's the most important thing. They have all made a commitment to get better and have done that. Some have made huge strides and some have made little strides. A long as we are getting better and working towards a bigger goal, we are going to be tough at the end of the year."
A couple of players looked upon to increase their workload will be Quinn Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev./Shadow Ridge) and Matt Vasinko (Loyalhanna, Pa./Derry Area). Peterson, a sophomore outside hitter, finished with 176 kills last season while Vasinko, a junior outside hitter, totaled 178 kills. DeHaven says that there will be a huge jump from Peterson and he will bring a wow factor to what the team is capable of doing. Junior Chris Heron (Las Vegas, Nev./Arbor View) is another player that DeHaven says has battled and has seen an improvement in him commanding the court and in serve receive.
The Eagles will play a daunting schedule ahead of them this year with a total of seven ranked teams on the docket. Juniata begins its 2017 campaign against #3 Stevens this weekend at the CVC Crossover and will also face #6 UC Santa Cruz. Defending National Champion SUNY New Paltz comes to Huntingdon on January 28 and the two teams play again in New York on March 3. Others include #7 Nazareth (February 3) and #8 Vassar (March 4 and 25). Two CVC teams are ranked in #11 Rutgers Newark and #5 Stevenson.
"I don't know if wins or losses at this point in the year is going to really determine how good we are going to be at the end of the year," said DeHaven. "Time will tell and we have some really good pieces. If we can find a way to put things together, we will be very tough for anybody especially in our own gym."
DeHaven sees his main team goals as getting better and making good choices. "This is a big picture year for this team," he said. "It has nothing to do with whether we lose the CVC Championship or whether we don't make the playoffs. The experience is going to be really good for them. They are going to learn how to be men and how to perform better in the classroom. We need to grow as individuals and understand that the groundwork that they lay this year is for bigger and better things in the future."