It was the time to wave “Aloha” to the Fairfield University Volleyball class of 2012. Well almost.
Even though there is still three weeks left in the regular season, including one more home game, the five members of the class celebrated their senior day.
“It’s weird to think four years have now culminated and I’m scared for the future. but I’m so happy to enjoy this right now,” senior Amanda Steiger said.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s sad its being close to the end. But it’s exciting too at the same time,” said senior captain Lauren Balmert, who is fifth in Fairfield history in assists
Lauren Balmert, Kendal Dirkin, Haililani Pokipala, Bethany and her twin sister Amanda Steiger received their flowers, picture frames, and leis before the Stags game against Iona on Saturday.
“I’m happy that all our families get to be here and I get to spend it with these girls,” said Pokipala, supporting a Hawaiian crown made out of countless folded one-dollar bills after the game. The Hawaii native currently has over 500 kills in her career and is closing in on the 1000 dig milestone.
These five girls were the first class under current head coach Alija Pittenger, who arrived the same year as the current seniors. She remembers how difficult it was during that initial transition process.
“I think they’ve done a really good job adjusting. With me coming in things were different than what they expected,” she said.
Throughout these four years, Pittenger and the senior class have recorded a 51-13 MAAC record and she credits the group for riding out the waves during their careers.
“I think every year with a new recruiting class things changed around a little bit and they’ve had to kinda figuring things out on their own…they haven’t had a ton of constants and they’ve done a really good job of doing well with things changing a lot,” said Pittenger.
Being through all the changes and events that have happened in the program during their stay has helped both Pittenger and the senior class develop into what they are today.
“We’ve seen them grow over four years and just see them change so much…I think all of them have come a long way and they’ve contributed a lot over the past four years,” Pittenger said.
The current group has experienced excitement and adversity over their careers. Their first two years featured both the thrill of making the MAAC tournament and the heartbreak of losing in the 2008 finals and the 2009 semi-finals.
“We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through the hard times, the good times, the happy times, the sad times but we’ve always leaned on each other throughout these four years,” Pokipala said.
And they made their senior day memorable with a five set thrilling win over the Iona Gaels. The squad has now won eight straight matches to improve to 9-1 in the MAAC, which is good enough to be the lone team in second place in the conference. The team now embarks on a long road trip and will now play 6 of its last 7 games away from home. The trip starts Saturday when the Stags face the first-place Niagara Purple Eagles, a team that has won 28 straight conference matches and marks the toughest test the Stags have had to face this season.
But these seniors want to end their final season high on the totem pole, and a win will force a first place tie. Haililani Pokipala said she wants to be remembered, “With a ring on my finger and the first team to win in over ten years, a MAAC Championship.”