WNY Athletics

Thunder Look For a Bigger Boom

Communication is important in any team sport. In Volleyball, its vital.

This year for the Mount St. Mary’s Volleyball team communication will be the focus.

In 2016, head coach Brittany Schukraft noticed that when the biggest moments came her team didn’t talk.

“I really stress communication because this is a team that tends to get quiet especially when they feel the pressure,” Schukraft said. “But that’s the time when they really need to communicate with one another. We don’t want anybody to feel they’re stranded on an island all by themselves.”

Last year, the Mount had a young team that battled for a .500 record and fell to Sacred Heart in the Monsignor Martin semifinals.

Schukraft believes her team gained confidence in 2016 and the momentum carried over to a strong offseason.

“Having some close sets with Sacred Heart last season showed the girls their potential,” Schukraft said. “There has been good progression throughout summer play.”

Coming back from last year’s young team are Lillian Mueller and Daniella Gugino. Both will be counted on to make sure the Thunder communicate this season.

According to Schukraft, Mueller, a senior, has strong leadership skills.

“She really pushes the other players on the court. She makes them communicate,” Schukraft said. “She makes them accountable.”

Gugino is a junior who is coming back for her third year in the varsity.

Schukraft is also looking for Gugino to be a leader.

“She’s a powerful outside hitter for us,” Schukraft said. “Her consistency is really going to help us this year.”

The Thunder is also looking for a strong impact from returning varsity players seniors Catherine Lippert, Emma Winner and sophomore Samantha Hare.

Junior Grace O’Brien and sophomore Lauren Mucica are coming up from the JV. They will bring the height to the front court for the Mount.

According to Schukraft the pair has been impressive so far.

“They’ve done a great job so far blocking and adapting to the competitive level on the varsity,” Schukraft said.

There has also been a special focus on blocking this preseason for the Mount. MMAA opponents boast strong power hitters that the Thunder know they will need to handle if they want to compete in 2017.

“We’re focusing on being able to stop these really powerful hitters throughout the league,” Schukraft said.

The expectation for the Mount is to break .500 and reach the MMAA finals, but they know that there is a lot of work to be done from now until then.

“We’re looking to do a lot better in our league this year,” Schukraft said. “Every year we want to be competitive with Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s of Lancaster. We have a jam-packed schedule that we think will get us ready for that when the time comes.”

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