Boston’s recent snowstorms have canceled one men’s volleyball game and several practices, but according to head coach Ben Read, the team is using this time off to their advantage by resting up.
“Luckily, with a small team and a couple injuries,” said Read, “it’s helping us out moving into the rest of the season.”
The Lions, who still compete in the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference, are 3-4 overall, with a 1-1 conference record, and still have 15 games to go. This time last year, they were 4-4 with one GNAC loss.
Except for Emerson’s first match against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they lost three sets to one, the Lions have either swept, or been swept by, their opponents. Read said this isn’t surprising for his team.
“We’re right where we should be—the teams we’ve lost to [have been nationally ranked],” said Read. “We’re winning the games we’re supposed to win and we’re competing, I think, with very good teams.”
The Lions’ first conference loss was on Feb. 5 to the Wentworth Institute of Technology Leopards, who are one spot out of being nationally ranked and are first in the GNAC. Despite losing in straight sets, Emerson kept the match close, falling 25-23 in the second set and 29-27 in the third. The two schools play again on March 28.
“A couple of guys on the team said we’re going to beat them next time,” said Read, whose team lost both matches to the Leopards last season. “That’s what I want—I want them to know that we have the potential and talent to beat very good teams. We just have to go ahead and really execute on all ends.”
Junior Jackson Wiley, the team’s starting outside hitter, is currently leading the GNAC in kills per set at four.
“I’m not really focusing on myself, because it’s such a team sport,” said Wiley, a visual and media arts major. “I’m just trying to get everybody better.”
Wiley finished second in the GNAC last year for the same statistic, averaging 3.72 kills per set.
“Jackson is doing what I thought he would do,” said Read. “He’s doing a very good job. He’s definitely one of the leaders on the team, and he’s showing that on the court.”
Emerson will hit the bulk of its conference schedule beginning on Feb. 26 against Johnson & Wales University, who finished third in the GNAC last season.
Wiley said he is optimistic about the rest of their conference schedule.
“Teams that used to beat us I don’t think will be able to either beat us by that much anymore, or we’ll beat them this time,” said Wiley.
Though the end of the season is over a month away, Read said the championship is on everyone’s minds.
“Our expectations [for the rest of the season] are that we’ve talked about making the conference tournament again,” said Read. “I think we can finish anywhere from fourth to sixth. We’d like to make it to the second round of playoffs, and see where we can go from there.”
Wiley, who has been a part of the Lions’ postseason appearances for the past two seasons, said he wants to make it back this year. Last year, Emerson lost in the first round. In 2013, they lost in the semifinals.
“My freshman year was the first time Emerson made it to the playoffs,” said Wiley. “I want to go as far as we can this year.”
Managing editor Anna Buckley contributed to this report.