Goldberg’s Golden Girls
Ben Florance | 1/16/15 4:20pm
| Updated 1/16/15 4:20pm
The most impressive athletic team last year was not men’s basketball. Yes, they had great success with a new head coach and won the most unlikely Patriot League Championship in program history, but you’re forgetting about one team.
We’ve come to expect excellence from teams under Barry Goldberg, who has built a dominant program since taking the reigns in 1989. Since 2000, the Eagles have won the Patriot League Tournament 11 times in 13 years. However, what the ladies did in the 2013 NCAA Tournament is almost incomprehensible. They won their first ever NCAA Tournament game, defeated No. 16 Duke in Durham, made the Sweet Sixteen and only exited the tournament after falling to No. 1 Texas.
The team set program bests for wins (34), losses (3) and only dropped a total of 22 sets all season. They also finished the year ranked No. 19, the first time they’ve ever been in the top-25 teams in the country at the end of the season. After such an enormously successful campaign, you could reasonably expect some sort of a letdown, right?
Not so much.
As of Nov. 14, the Eagles sit at 23-5 with only two conference games remaining and are undefeated in Patriot League play (14-0), something they didn’t even accomplish last year. How have they done it yet again, without a couple of all-Patriot League performers who graduated?
Ethan Jenkins, a sophomore who broadcasts volleyball games for the Patriot League Network, notes the play of juniors Sarah Katz and Allison Cappellino. The two have filled the void left by 2013 first-team all-Patriot League selection Juliana Crum at the outside hitter position as both have improved their production.
Jenkins also notes the importance of senior setter Monika Smidova, whom the momentum of the team “seems to really flow through day in and day out.” Smidova, the 2013 Patriot League Setter of the Year, ranks in the top five in school history for assists.
Nobody can deny Goldberg has built a machine with this volleyball program, and this year’s team has continued to further that rich tradition. But as the season winds down, there is one question that everybody wants to know: can they possibly pull off another run in the tournament?
Jenkins notes the team’s RPI, which will likely leave them playing a seeded team in the first round of the tournament, which they did not have to do last year.