NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Season preview for the 2022 NECC Knights Women’s Volleyball team

NECC Knights Women’s Volleyball are practicing and working really hard for this upcoming season. Their season is set to begin on Sept 8, against New Hampshire Tech on the road.

 Their head coach is Mike Pelosi of Haverhill.

Coach Pelosi will be entering his fourth season managing the club.

Coach Pelosi and his coaching staff did a little work over the off-season to improve this volleyball team and hopefully when the season ends to reach the ultimate goal, which is winning the Region 21 championship.

“…I would say preparation will be the big piece, I think we had some good talented players last year but we just not spend a good quality time on the court to get our self prepared for the game we practice but I thought we could’ve practice harder and longer and then definitely getting there getting warmed up properly and be ready for the beginning of the match so those are two big areas I think we have a group that is much more committed this year and willing to put in all the time necessary to get us to that high level,” Coach Pelosi said.

One thing that Coach Pelosi learned from last season and wants to work on for this upcoming season he mentioned more buy in.  “I think one thing as I’m trying to make more collaborate process with the players is there is more buy in. So rather for example coming into practice being on time rather than just sanding out of the player punish them if they don’t comply actually having them come together and create their own set of rules so they can hold each other accountable,” he said.

Coach Pelosi said before he recruits a player to be on the team he looks at their attitude and determines if a certain player will fit in or not on his team.

“I look at attitude a lot I think assistant Coach Marissa [Reardon] and I are very good at teaching the sports, so attitude it’s a big piece so if we have a player show up consistently have a positive optimistic outlook making effort to get along with their teammates and a big one is accept feedback, if they want to accept feedback and put in a good effort that’s critical. We also look for a lot of fundamental skills and I would say basic athleticism it’s pretty important thing so we can get them we can progress them very quickly on their volleyball skills if they already had good hand coordination and a good balance and also players that are willing to fill in a role it’s very helpful…” he said.

Coach Pelosi and I talked about the team members that they lost last year either because of academic  issues or transferring to another college/university.

NECC Women's Volleyball practicing and getting prepared for the season Photo by Editor-in-Chief/ Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez

NECC Women’s Volleyball practicing and getting prepared for the season

He mentioned to me “… When I first took over the position I set certain bench marks for myself to measure my own success the first one that comes to mind is win record but that’s not the only one. Another one of my major bench mark is attention retention rate.  How many players come back and it’s consistently been lower than I hope. I was hoping for at least 50 percent or higher retention rate.  We usually about 30 percent of a third of the players come back. Initially I interpreted that maybe I can do things a little bit better but I had conversations with other volleyballs coaches from other community colleges and find that that number is fairly consistent so we do lose a lot of players. We have some players transferring out that’s one thing, academics is always a challenge so we tried to provide a lot of suggestion and support for players academically to help them be successful academically…” he said.

One of the returning athletes  who is playing in  her second year for the Knights Women’s Volleyball team is Ashley Dominguez of Lawrence. Dominguez last season for the Knights played in just 10 matches.

I asked her the adjustment that she and her teammates are doing to become a better volleyball player than what they already are.

“I think that all of us had made pretty good adjustment we trying to make sure that we be  consistent with serves, consistent with getting all those balls even if their  out. I think we just making little tweaks that is going to help us in the long run hopefully,” Dominguez said.

They still don’t quite have a lot of chemistry together but they are on the right path. “I think right know we’re getting our chemistry, we’re learning a lot from each other, we are learning how we played, we are learning how we communicate on and off the court in our own way to make our team successful,” she said.

One difference that she noticed this season than last year is the team as a whole is  bonding faster and she hopes that will transfer over in the court.

One of the recruits for this upcoming season is Eliany DeJesus of Lowell.

I asked her if she played women’s volleyball in high school and does she thinks the competition is  going to be harder now in college?

“Yes, I did play women’s volleyball at Lowell High School and I do think  the competition is  going to be a lot harder just because it is the collegiate level but I can’t wait for what the season has to bring for me and my girls,” she said.

Is she nervous  or excited for the season to start in a few days?

“I am some-what in between just because I have taken volleyball off for a year but I know that with practice we will get it together and work great as a team,” she said.

She also said to me one area that she got better in was serving and she has been more consistent with her toss. One area that she would like to work on more is passing the ball to her teammates.

In order for her to stay on her school work and not be left behind in her courses she is going to use the support that Northern Essex has, which is academic coaching and academic advising.

She is currently majoring in Criminal Justice.

Another recruit for this upcoming season that will be playing for the Women’s Volleyball team is Eliany’s twin sister Kiana DeJesus of Lowell.

“I feel high school and college it’s a very different level. I played at Greater Lowell Technical High School and Kingsborough for about three years and took one year off and the way that we played high school it’s very different from collegiate volleyball but I also think high school does give you a little prep… but overall college volleyball it’s a little bit harder than high school volleyball,” she said.  

She is very excited for the season to begin this upcoming Thursday and to see different talent and bonding more with her teammates and be a better volleyball player than what she already is.

Some of the improvement she has made is that she is better at is reading the ball and getting there faster she wants to improve on confidence, she said. She mentioned to me that she has “lack of confidence”.

She had different offers to play in college for example Salem State and SNHU. She choose Northern Essex because her family lives in Haverhill and Lawrence.

She is looking forward to creating memories with her teammates during the season. “Memories last a life-time and people could be here today gone tomorrow but I’m looking forward to the memories, bus ride home, the laughter, hanging out as a team,” she said.

She currently majoring in Behavioral Science.