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Senior Karoline Shelton leaps for spike in the pre­season tour­nament
Anthony Lupi | Collegian

The Hillsdale College women’s vol­leyball team is headed into a busy season beginning on Friday, Sept. 3 with a match up at Ferris State Uni­versity. As the world slowly begins to open its doors back into everyday life, these Chargers are up at the net blocking any sort of obstacle in their path on the way to a suc­cessful season. 

Last season pre­sented limited in-person atten­dance and shifted the season into an abnormal one. With first-team All-G-MAC honors for the fourth year in a row, senior Allyssa Van Wienen has the per­spective of a sea­soned player with the high hopes of a new­comer for the season ahead.

“I think we are all just excited to have a regular season in general again,” Van Wienen said. “Obvi­ously, there are still some unknowns about the upcoming season and plenty of things that are out of control, so we are all taking it day by day.”

The “day by day” con­sists of a three to four hour time com­mitment daily. From prac­tices to scrim­mages to workouts and team-building, the Chargers have been working hard all preseason. 

Headed into the fall season,  the Chargers have a larger team of 19 players in total. Eight of those players are freshmen, cov­ering every position from libero to middle hitter. With three fifth-year seniors and the rest sopho­mores and juniors, the group is a con­glom­er­ation of sea­soned G‑MAC Players of the Year and new­comers ready to face the chal­lenge that lies ahead. 

One of these freshmen, Lauren Pas­saglia, is part of the few classes of grad­uated high school stu­dents in recent years who are entering college without the full scope of the normal high school expe­rience and sub­se­quently the normal high school ath­letic season. 

“My high school basi­cally had two grad­u­a­tions. You could sign up for one of two time slots,” Pas­saglia said. “It’s weird because I’ve gone to school with all of these kids since kinder­garten and I only got to graduate with half. College will def­i­nitely take some adjustment.”

Shifting into the typical college schedule with demanding team oblig­a­tions has forced Pas­saglia to learn how to best manage her time and succeed. With the help of the seniors and the wide variety of stu­dents on the team, Pas­saglia has been wel­comed into a unique support system that goes beyond the court. 

The lead of this support team is head coach Chris Gravel. Gravel is heading into his 26th season of coaching. His con­fi­dence in his team is evident: leaning back in his chair and cracking jokes as he describes the goals moving forward. 

“Stay healthy, is one,” Gravel said. “Two is to con­tinue to get better.”

As the season’s formal beginning creeps near, con­fi­dence in the Chargers and their success is not limited to Gravel or the team­mates them­selves. The G‑MAC pre­season poll pre­sented by Under Armor revealed that Hillsdale is pre­dicted to win the North Division title this season. Moreso, the American Vol­leyball Coaches Asso­ci­ation Pre­season Coaches Poll places Hillsdale as the thir­teenth in the nation.

The night cap on the pre­season was this past Sat­urday, where the Chargers hosted a scrimmage. 

“Saturday’s scrimmage went well,” Van Wienen said. “There were still def­i­nitely some kinks that needed to be worked out, but being able to play against a dif­ferent team gave us a chance to work through some of those things and hon­estly just gave us all a little con­fi­dence heading into the start of the season.”