Hired only weeks before the season a year ago, Head Coach Atef Dosse did not have much time to corral the team into the contender he envisioned it to be. Still, the Dolphins showed poise in their first season under the new skipper, and with a full-offseason under his wing, the coach is excited for a promising 2012 season, one that can build on the team’s 4-18 mark a year ago.
The promise for a better day is accentuated by the fact that CSI only lost a single player to graduation, albeit quality senior Danielle Ponsiglione. The team is still very young, boasting only two seniors currently, among them Kaitlyn Flynn, who wasn’t with the squad 2011 but submitted a quality campaign in 2010 as a junior. Fellow senior Catherine Ebro is another player fresh off of the softball diamond, and could have an increased role.
Together with junior and returning player Vasiliki Stergioula the Dolphins have themselves a nice base of upperclassmen leadership and experience that will be called on by Dosse, as he gets the team situated towards the rigorous season.
“Our returning players give us good chemistry,” said Dosse, who made his coaching debut last year. “We have players maintaining their positions and knowing their roles. It’s good to have a team that is on the same page with where we are and where we want to go, and that starts with our returning talent.”
The trio of upperclassmen will not be without returning help, as CSI boasts a handful of second year players who all saw extensive time on the hardwood last year. Brittany Olenick, Jennifer Samuel, JeanMarie Lewandowski, Christina Trunzo-Mosleh, Pola Poskrobko, and Monica Concepcion all gained valuable experience a year ago, mentions Dosse, and the difference in volleyball knowledge and playability from last year at this time to now is enormous, according to the coach.
“Last year’s challenge was that many of our players were playing together for the first time, and that led to some miscommunication,” said Dosse. “Between raising our competitive level of volleyball, playing alongside each other, eliminating easy mistakes, and getting physically stronger in the spring and with practice everyone is very confident this time around.”
Dosse contends that the returning team will be better in 2012, but the coach is also excited about his incoming recruits. Loren Verri joins the team as a junior, and should see extensive time along with Selma Kolenovic, who joins the team as a second-year frosh, both will buy time as middle hitters while freshman Mirna Abdelsayed will complement on the outside. Libero Brittany Minondo provides solid defense, and is CSI’s lone Brooklyn-ite, having played at Fort Hamilton High School.
“We are very excited about our new players. So much of the game depends on the middle of your team and we are getting a lot stronger there this year,” Dosse said. “We will work on our footwork, technique, and movement with our newer players and as the season progresses, we should get even better.”
Progress will be the key for the Dolphins. Ironically, the team only won four games a year ago despite improving in every statistical category. That is a testament to the improved play of the entire CUNY Athletic Conference, something the coach feels will continue. If the Dolphins continue its forward momentum, however, more wins and competitive play should soon be on the horizon.
“Playing volleyball to a higher standard is what will help us win games,” Dosse stated. “We lost many games last year where simple technique or small errors cost us in the long run. Our approach this year is to maintain the quality of the game each and every night we play. The players are doing great with identifying the errors and accentuating the positives of their play.”
CSI will open its slate of games tonight, welcoming in visiting New Jersey City University as part of non-conference play. On Saturday, the Dolphins will usher in conference play when they travel to York College to take on both City College of New York (11:30am) and Medgar Evers College (3:30pm). The Dolphins’ schedule is dominated by play away from the Sports & Recreation Center. Fourteen of CSI’s 19 contests are played on the road, including three tri-matches. Eight teams make the CUNYAC Postseason Tournament which kicks off on October 30.