Under new leadership, the College of Staten Island men’s volleyball team will be looking to introduce a new and promising installment in 2017, as they debut their season Friday at the Sports & Recreation Center at 7pm against Lasell College.  Only their third year as an NCAA Division III program, CSI is being guided by new head coach Jason Madsen, and seeking an improvement on an 8-20 faring a year ago.

Like any new program, with a new coaching staff to boot, Madsen expects to see continued growing pains, especially against the backdrop of a tough schedule that begins with the nationally-prominent Lancers on Friday.  Still he wants his team to lay a foundation that can be fortified as the season moves on, and built on with each passing season.

“It’s a challenge but it’s also very exciting,” said the new coach.  “It’s a new opportunity for me and for this group to mold itself into a solid collegiate volleyball team.  Our efforts will be focused on building culture and laying the groundwork for continues progress.  It’s been a challenge because we don’t have a large roster and we will be picking up some players as they come off other teams, but the nucleus is there to try and get over hurdles and move this team in the right direction.  We’ve been seeing great progress in just the last couple of weeks and that’s very promising.”  

On thing that Madsen has at his disposal is a nucleus of returning players who are both committed to the cause and who have already earned valuable experience.  That includes junior Danil Kukovitskiy and senior Khaleeq Baum, who will join the team after the men’s basketball season.  Junior Ronald Tisbe will make another go-around with the unit, as will Steven Caruso and Mark Palencia, who missed the 2016 season but is back this year.  Swimming and diving duo Brandon Lei (Jr.) and Adil El Haddad (So.) will also complement the squad and add valued veteran leadership.

“We have a few players that have been very receptive to the teaching ad the coaching you can tell they want to learn,” commented Madsen.  “They’ve all had a taste of playing and all know that if we take things one day at a time that we will get better as a unit.  It’s nice having that nucleus there and having everyone on the same page.  Again, it will be a slower process because we will get some athletes as the season moves along, but once we start surpassing our small goals, we will see the improvement.”   

Madsen is anxious to work on continuing to develop his veterans, and he is just as excited to get his hands on his young freshman players and making them better.  Coming in just before the women’s 2016 season, Madsen was late in the recruiting cycle but newcomers Zebin Guo, Justice Stoute and Anthony Vigilante are expected to contribute in a variety of ways, and all have a valued plus-side, according to their head coach.

“We have Zedin slotted as a potential libero.  He has great ball control and is very vocal,” the coach said.  “Justice and Anthony have shown a lot of improvement since day one and we certainly think they will help us out on the right side and with their hitting and blocking.  I think all of our newcomers possess the positive attitude and have been present at practice ready to get better and we’re really excited to see their development.  So far, it has been great to see them getting more and more confident and adjusted.”  

Madsen is hopeful things will come together in time to see the Dolphins make advancements.  One thing is for sure – he expects his team to work hard and communicate on the court.  According to Madsen the teams that do the fundamentals correctly tend to have more success.  For CSI to achieve success, they will need to preach that type of development.  Madsen expects his team to work from the middle-out, and do the little things correctly before moving on to the more complicated schemes.

“Volleyball is very simple in that if you can’t service the ball in play and you can’t receive the service and pass, you essentially can’t do anything positive offensively,”  he noted.  “We need to be a solid ball-control team that practices strong passing and we will work on that and our communication and build out from there.  Effective and cohesive teams do those fundamentals properly and eventually the rest comes easier to teach, learn, and carry-out on the court.  That will be our ultimate focus for the season.”

Not one to make predictions, Madsen would simply like to see the Dolphins get better with each match, and if that happens, he thinks the team can surprise many this season.

“I honestly feel that our win-loss number will be inconsequential,” he said.  “What will make me happy is knowing that we are progressing as a team and to lay that foundation for a program that instills a winning culture and attitude to the college.  Beginning on Friday we will see solid programs that operate at a higher level and have been for some time.  It will be a good chance to see where we want to be and will set that stage for the future.” 

All home CSI matches are FREE and PG-CLUE Certified for CSI students.  All home matches are scheduled to be broadcast live and free on CSI SportsNet, and live statistics will be available for each game as well.