SUNY Broome Volleyball Caps Off Best Season in Program History
It was a historic season for the SUNY Broome Volleyball team. After an undefeated regular season capped off with a regional title, the Hornets traveled to Minnesota to compete in the NJCAA National Championships, going further than any Broome Volleyball team has before.
“We came in all not knowing anything about each other and we just clicked,” says Owego Free Academy Grad and SUNY Broome Freshman Mackenzie Struble. “We became best friends, we have plans for after season now, we’re hanging out tomorrow.”
After playing volleyball for Broome and then spending 5 years as an assistant coach for the Hornets, Ashleen Speen took over the head coaching job this season. She says it was that quick chemistry that played a big role in the team's success.
“I could move someone around and put someone in a different place and they’d just fill in the gaps,” says Head Coach Ashleen Speen. “The connection they had was incredible. The first day of tryouts they came in and were talking I don’t think I’ve seen a group do that in a very long time if ever.”
With the Hornets starting the season with 18 straight wins, only dropping 4 sets in those matches total, it certainly seems like it was a breeze. However, there was plenty of adversity to overcome.
“We had a lot of setbacks,” says Owego Free Academy Grad and SUNY Broome Sophomore Sara Zepkowski. “We had a girl with mono, we had COVID-19, and we had a girl with appendicitis.”
“Once we all came back and realized what potential we do have it really made things go along and we just clicked and played good volleyball,” says Struble.
Following victories in their first two contests at the National Championships in Minnesota, the Hornets finally suffered their first defeat of the season and ended up finishing 4th. Zepkowski was named to the All-Tournament team and Broome won the 2021 NJCAA Division III National Championship Sportsmanship Award. With the best season in program history in the rearview mirror, the team looks back with fondness at the memories and relationships the journey created.
“I’m so grateful,” says Zepkowski. “I’m so thankful to have been here and to be on the team and to have met all these girls and have played with them.”
“I’m so grateful that I’m a part of this,” says Speen. “I’ve been a part of the program for so long now so to see it improve from the first year that I played up until this point was just amazing and I take a lot of pride in it.”