In just one year, sophomore middle hitter Julianna Augustine saw her role shift from a freshman rookie to a mentor to her younger teammates on the volleyball team.
“This year I kinda wanted my role to be the leader for the middles that were coming in,” the 6-foot tall journalism major said. “I kinda wanted to be there for them if they had any questions or if they wanted help with anything.”
The Lions have posted a solid 5-3 record this season, and Augustine has been an essential part of this early success, according to head coach Ben Read.
In their first tri-match of the season, Augustine combined for 34 kills and hit for a .582 attack percentage.
“As a middle [that] is the dream you have,” said Read. “To see her do that when the [other] team knew she was basically going to be getting the ball was really something special.”
Two juniors and no seniors returned to play this year, so the bulk of the Lions’ roster is composed of its five sophomores and seven freshmen.
One of those juniors is defensive specialist Giuli Frendak, a journalism major, who was named captain by her teammates.
“[This season’s] been nothing but positive so far,” said Frendak. “I think that [the freshmen] have all come in really eager to play, really wanting to make a name for our team and really step it up and be contributing members on the court.”
Read said the lack of upperclassmen has given younger players opportunities they might not have had otherwise.
“We really brought in a talented group,” he said. “If we did have more upperclassmen, they might not have seen as much playing time right away, so hopefully that really helps our team chemistry.”
Though the team has been playing well so far, Read and Frendak agree there are still a few areas of improvement.
“We need to work on more individual things. Some more outside hitters have to go ahead and work on some different shots, as well as knowing what defense they’re facing,” said Read. “Maybe [we could] fine-tune our blocking a little bit, and our serve receive is something that is going to be huge moving forward.”
Frendak said the transition from high school to college can be tough, but the freshmen are showing progress.
“You’re held accountable for a lot more things, responsibilities are different, and I think that they’ve done a really good job adjusting,” she said.
After winning four straight games to begin the season, the Lions lost their first two games at the Brandeis Invitational on Sept. 5 and 6.
“I think that whenever you lose for the first time, it kind of puts you back into reality,” Augustine said. “Things are gonna happen, mistakes are gonna happen. But you know what, you gotta fix it and learn from it and move forward.”
The Lions are set to play their second tri-match of the season at Rivier University on Sept. 13. The team’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference opener is on Sept. 16 vs. Wellesley College in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gymnasium.