Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Transfers and graduations led to tough season for women’s volleyball

Photo by Antonio Bastolla
The team celebrates a strong play during a game earlier in the season. The women’s volleyball season came to an end last week.

After coming off of an impressive 2022 fall season at 25 wins and only seven losses, women’s volleyball set the bar high for the new season. However, with several top players lost due to graduation and transfers, there were many questions as to how the team would perform. 


The Pioneers added new transfers: notable players such as Eden McElhaney, Haley Stormer, Marcella Erichsen and Mariah Perez. Freshman Mia Arndt joined the team and became an immediate contributor. On top of this, the team had returners like Elise Wallace, Ashlynn Gulakowski, Kenzie Zauner, Guilia Follador, Amanda Contois and Lily Marchand. These players will get lots of playing time this season and hope to continue on the high standards that Point Park Volleyball set last season. 


As the season went underway, we got a small group play, placing the Pioneers 1-3 to start the year. This was a good introduction, all were able to witness the negatives and the positives. As previously mentioned with how new the team looks, chemistry is something that the team looked to build on early into the season. 


At the home opener vs. Salem University, the Pioneers looked to win in Pittsburgh and gain momentum for the rest of the season. In this home opener, the Pioneers dominated in a 3-0 victory. Eden McElhaney, a newcomer transfer from Marshall University, showed off her incredible talent by leading the team in kills.


The Pioneers were able to continue on to face Carnegie Mellon at home. The team played pretty well but could not quite execute, resulting in a 3-1 loss. In athletics, there are moments when you play well and are not upset at how you play, only upset by the final result. This game was an example of this scenario. 


The Pioneers went  on to play a conference game at WVU Tech, in which the Pioneers underperformed and lost 3-0. The team then got back in the win column in their victory vs. Alice Lloyd. Even though the team was 3-5 at this point, the playoffs were still a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, Point Park’s squad lost their next six games. This was a shocker, as the team showed so much potential in the season so far but just could not close in any of these games. These six losses hurt, as some were conference matchups, putting the team low in the standings. 


The Pioneers were not happy and looked to play a tough matchup against an 11-win team, Pitt-Johnstown. The Pioneers appeared to be a completely different team in this home game, making play after play and winning the game 3-1. The Pioneers were heavy underdogs, and this win fired the team up and allowed them to finally break a poor losing streak, now fueled by an optimistic hope to make the playoffs.


After this huge win, the Pioneers went  on to get swept in three conference games right after looking unreal vs. Pitt Johnstown. Making the playoffs became even more of a stretch, as these conference losses definitely reduced their chances. With 10 games remaining, the Pioneers ended up winning four of them and losing six, two of those wins coming in the last two games of the season. 


This was the end of a bumpy road. There was incredible talent on the team, just some struggles with consistency. The Pioneers made too many errors, a lot of them coming from the serves. The team had  200+ service errors on the season. At many moments in the season there were great plays, but the Pioneers were unable to finish with a win. This haunted them, as those neck-and-neck sets could’ve resulted in at least three more victories, if not more. 


With many of the team playing their first year together, it was not easy for them to immediately perform the way they wished. Players like Amanda Contois, the right side hitter, had a breakout season, same with newcomer Eden McElhaney. Kenzie Zauner, who played the libero all season, almost reached 1,600 digs and was a defensive monster all season. Elise Wallace and Ashlynn Gulakowski both hit 1,000 career assists. There were many accolades and many ups and downs, but the Pioneers will keep training and be ready for a revenge tour next season. A huge shout-out to the seniors who are graduating this year: Ashlynn Gulakowski, Kenzie Zauner, Amanda Contois and Guilia Follador. Four incredible players, great people, and great students. Good luck to those four, and good luck to the Pioneers volleyball team next year!

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