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Penn College Men’s Volleyball Team Looks for Continued Success

During Wes Strayer’s first three seasons as coach of the Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s volleyball team, the Wildcats have been nothing less than phenomenal.

During that time, they have won 64 matches while losing only eight (.888 winning percentage), captured two Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championships and finished second in two different conferences twice.

As his veteran team prepares for its season opener Saturday at the Terrapin Invitational, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Strayer says the only thing that can stop the squad from another successful campaign will be the players themselves.

“My problem right now: the conversation on the court is not there. They have to learn how to communicate with each other. As soon as they do that, the better off they’re going to be,” Strayer said.

“Team chemistry has to say a lot for a team. If you don’t have it, I don’t care how good you are it’s not going to get it done,” Strayer continued.

Returning starters from last year’s team that went 28-5 and finished second in the Middle Atlantic Collegiate Volleyball Club circuit behind Messiah are seniors outside hitters Cody Umberger (Hummelstown) and Matt Staub (Lancaster) and setter Kyle Flook (Camp Hill), juniors middle hitters Derrick DeNardo (Norristown) and Phil Neiderer (New Oxford) and southpaw weak-side hitter sophomore Ashlin Hollinger (Lancaster). Umberger and Flook were named to the league all-tournament team a year ago.

Adam Peck, a junior from Norristown, is the first player off the bench while others on the team are freshmen Adam Dumm (Edensburg), Cody Goss (State College), Matt Liendo (Coal Township), Josh Stover (Spring Mills) and Shawn Wesche (Angelica, N.Y.).

“As a whole, I have a lot of talent. My starting six, plus Adam Peck, if we pass and play defense I really don’t think anybody can beat us; we have that much talent on the floor,” Strayer said. “If they gel as a team and flow good, I just can’t see anybody beating us because we have too much power.”

Physically, Strayer said, his team has it all. It’s the mental part that has him concerned.

“They’ve come to me (and said) they can’t get (pumped) up to play. I don’t want to say motivated, but they can’t get up to play. I told them, ‘you guys have to figure this out.’ I told them ‘my biggest motivation when I played was I hated to lose, and if you guys hate to lose, that’s motivation enough to get yourselves up to play this game,'” the coach said.

That said, Strayer added, “I’m almost positive they’re going to step up to the plate and have another really good year. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. They’re just too good.”

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