Women’s volleyball team in midst of historic season
When the women’s volleyball team fell to the Johnson & Wales Wildcats in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinals last season, Head Coach Jeff Vautrin, then in his third season with the team, realized something needed to change. The women’s volleyball team, which does not have a single senior or graduate student on the roster, entered the 2023-2024 season with a positive attitude attached to their win-now mindset.
“When I was getting frustrated with our play, [the team] got frustrated as well,” Vautrin said. “So this year, the big focus for me as a coach is trying to stay as level as possible and letting [the team] focus on themselves, rather than them looking at me every time during our meetings.”
This new mindset has paid major dividends for the Lasers, as their new demeanor led them to a program-best start to the season and a historic winning streak that topped nine wins for the first time since 2005. Further, the Lasers are on pace to beat their regular season total win record of 22 games.
Sophomore fashion design and production major Dillon Ramirez has attended many of the women’s volleyball games this fall. “They’ve been amazing,” Ramirez said. “I can’t believe we’re witnessing history. This team has a bright future ahead of them.”
Vautrin credits sophomore Sydney Katz, who has been improving more and more every game.
“Sydney is getting way more consistent running the offense,” Vautrin said.
The fourth-year head coach also noted the team’s success would not be where it is if not for a bulk of the juniors developing their skills this season.
“Juliana Medini has stepped up big for us this year—not only as a player but as a leader,” Vautrin said. “Camila Lopez has been putting us ahead in key moments, and Morgan Bogli has been doing great things on the blocking end this year.”
Blocking has been one of the Lasers' strong suits all season, as they currently average just under two blocks per set. Vautrin believes staying consistent with that particular skill-set will be crucial down the stretch, and turning that defense into a better offense will be the main objective for the team.
First-year outside hitter Isabelle Borowinski, who has carved out a productive role for herself, appreciates the way Vautrin has coached, noting that despite being a “very quiet coach,” he knows how to light a fire underneath the team.
“Coming into the season, everybody was starting fresh,” Borowinski said. “Then we just started winning, and every single time we would break a record, Jeff would tell us the minute before our next game started.”
The Lasers, currently sitting atop the GNAC standings, continue to squash all opponents standing in their path to greatness. While some fans might argue that this season will mark the Lasers’ best chance to finally win a GNAC championship, the prime years of this team might just be getting started.