Felician University head women's volleyball coach John Chang is hoping to put into motion a chain of events for the 2019 season which will eventually lead his program to its greatest success. The first link in the chain is trust.
"I've already seen that when our players lose trust in the other women on the court, it leaves a big hole, especially in our offense," Chang, entering his sixth season, said of preseason workouts and scrimmages. "When our team shows trust and confidence, it creates the optimism people are starting to see around the team."
Another reason for positivity is that Chang and the Golden Falcons are coming off the best season in school history. Felician set program records for victories (13) and conference wins (8) in 2018. In August, for the first time ever, the Golden Falcons were chosen to finish in second place in the CACC North Division in the league's preseason coaches' poll.
"First and foremost, we need to stay healthy," Chang said. "We need to have our key players on the floor and able to perform at a high level. Then we just want to win and continue to change the program. Naturally people, both inside and outside the University, will be more optimistic and supportive the more we win, but that process starts with us."
The coaching staff has been busy integrating five freshmen into a rotation that returns all but one starter. The Golden Falcons are developing their collective feel for the sport in order to have their instincts catch up to their skills.
"We'll be adjusting to opponents, but we also hope to able to make adjustments in real time," Chang said. "We have a fun group with no cliques, and our skill level overall is the best of any of my teams here,"
SETTER: The Golden Falcons appear ready to hand the primary setting duties to freshman Miquela Martinez (Santa Fe, N.M./St. Michael's). However, senior Charlotte Greek (Menifee, Calif./Murrieta Mesa) re-claimed her starting spot at the end of 2018 and lends veteran hands to the role.
OUTSIDE/OPPOSITE: Senior co-captain Kali Vodrazka (Bayonne, N.J./Bayonne) returns to start at right-side hitter. She is among Felician's all-time blocking leaders and an improving threat on offense. Vodrazka will be backed up by junior Melody Carbonell (Jersey City, N.J./NYC Museum School).
Sophomore Maddie Sloan (Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) appears poised to make the jump from reserve to regular at outside hitter. The initial plan is to pair Sloan with freshman Tabatha Wagner (Wabash, Ind./Wabash), but another rookie, Sophia Stegmuller (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) will look to make an early impact. Senior Raamiah Edwards (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) was efficient as a "change-up" hitter on last year's squad.
MIDDLE: The attacking and blocking of junior Katie Asbery (Mililani, Hawaii/Mililani) have steadily improved since her arrival in Rutherford. Freshman Catherine Lentsch (Elkhorn, Neb./Elkhorn South) appears ready to earn extending playing time, and fifth-year senior co-captain Jazlyn Pipkins (Paris, Texas/Paris) hopes to return from an offseason injury in time for conference play.
BACK ROW/LIBERO: Sophomore Sierra Gallagher (Honolulu, Hawaii/Kamehameha) was a two-time CACC Rookie of the Week after shifting from setter to her high-school position of libero for the final third of her rookie campaign. Sophomore defensive specialist Alondra Diaz Sanchez (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico/Colegio de La Salle) will be used regularly in the back row to spell middle blockers.