In the Foresters’ first home game of the season, defensive specialist Katie DePew prepares to pass a Taylor serve. (Photo by Gina Eisenhut)

Senior outside hitter and co-captain Brittany Rooze said the goal is simple– compete in the conference tournament.

This feat must be a collective effort, as the Foresters rely on many freshmen to fill crucial parts of the line-up this season with the roster comprising of more than fifty-percent freshmen. Two freshmen, Emily Hubby and Annie Pizzo, split setting responsibilities, a tall order that head coach Amy Settle said has been addressed by many repetitions in practice.

Kate Cobb, another freshman, has taken over the critical job of libero and has helped make the setters’ jobs “so much easier” through her consistent passing, Settle said. Freshmen Josie Beaver and Danielle Gurwell also play intricate roles as middle blockers.
The freshmen join five returning players, including senior co-captain and outside hitter Heather Medich. Settle said all five have embraced the freshmen class, which is a key to the team’s rapidly growing chemistry.

The team started its campaign to earn a conference tournament bid with their first game of the season, a conference match on the road against Goshen College Sept. 5. Early-season nerves showed as the young team fell in straight sets to the Maple Leaves.

Rooze described the team’s performance as a “shock” after a month of consistent practices contrasted to how the game took place.

“I wouldn’t say we were discouraged,” Rooze said. “We knew it was a fluke. We just wanted to make sure it would never happened again.”

Looking to bounce back, the Foresters hosted conference rival Taylor University in their next match Sept. 10. Despite the loss, Settle was pleased by her team’s game-to-game improvement.

“We came out like the team we are capable of being this early in the season,” Settle said. “The intensity, grit, and ball-handling you saw (against Taylor) is who we are.”

Finding their momentum, the team netted their first victory blanking Spring Arbor University 3-0. The team delivered yet another win Sept. 20 during the Huntington University tournament. The Foresters would outlast Judson University, winning the final set to take the 3-2 win. The Lady Foresters would finish the tournament with a record of 2-1.

The Foresters’s next home match will be against conference competitor Mount Vernon Nazarene University Sept. 26.