North Adams, MA- The MCLA Volleyball program will open up their 2019 season this Friday as they head to Gordon for their annual kick-off tournament. The Trailblazers are looking to rebound from a disappointing season a year ago when they finished sixth in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference (MASCAC). MCLA was voted to finish in sixth place via the MASCAC preseason poll that was released this afternoon.
Worcester State was selected as the favorite to win the league championship in 2019.
MCLA is under the direction of longtime head coach Amanda Beckwith. Following last season's disappointment, Beckwith revamped the roster with nine first year Trailblazers who will look to make an immediate impact.
"As a team we are working towards making the post season and advancing past the first round with the ultimate goal of advancing back to the championship round," Beckwith commented on her season goals. "We want to improve our overall record as well and the playoffs will take care of itself."
The Trailblazers do return seven veterans who will all be influential throughout the season. Leading the way for MCLA is senior setter Tessa Sestito. Last season, she led the team with 397 assists and will remain a catalyst for the MCLA attack. The Trailblazers did lose their top two attackers from last season and will look for a few sophomores to step forward along with some key newcomers. Sophomores Ahna Schlaefer and Reagan Scattergood combined for over 200 kills a year ago and both gained valuable experience. Newcomers Kelly Moczulski and Madison Jayne also will factor into the MCLA offense and should see some court time immediately.
Other Trailblazers looking to settle into roles include sophomores Kelsey LaFreniere and Laiken Cornwell-L'Hote. The duo played in 44 matches last season and their biggest impact came at the net. LaFreniere was second on the team in blocks and added 68 kills while Cornwell L'Hote notched 63 kills.
On the defensive side, the Trailblazers return Natasha Stewart as well as Sestito to anchor the defense. Transfer Houa Xiong will also look to make an impact this upcoming weekend and beyond as she has plenty of community college experience. Sophomore Madison Benlien will look to build upon her freshman season in which she appeared in 15 matches for MCLA and collected 67 digs during that time.
MCLA opens up play with three games this weekend at the Gordon Invitational. They will open up at home on Tuesday, September 3rd when they host Mount Holyoke. MASCAC play will begin on September 17th.