PORTAGE | After spending the last 11 years at Loyola and DePaul, first-year Andrean coach Julie Wiejak was eager to see what the new season had in store for the 59ers.
Wiejak was all smiles Monday night as Andrean swept Portage on the road in the season opener for both teams.
The 59ers never trailed by more than a point in the 25-16, 25-20, 25-16 victory.
"The focus is not on winning right now, but on improving with every match and practice," Wiejak said. "I'm the most competitive person in the world, but it's not about winning right now. That said, I'm super-psyched after tonight and I credit all the hard work we put in over the summer."
Taylor Mullen led the 59ers (1-0) with 11 kills and seven digs while setter Ana Nicksic had 30 assists.
"This was a definite confidence booster for us, especially after last year," Nicksic said. "We're a whole new team. We're lucky to have (Wiejak). She's changed us. We're 180 degrees different than we were last year."
Nicksic is one of 10 seniors on the roster for Andrean and it didn't take long for the veteran leadership to take over Monday. After opening the match with a 15-6 lead, the 59ers watched as Portage stormed back with eight straight points. Where last year's team might have folded, the senior-laden 59ers responded with a 7-point run of their own to close out the first game and never looked back.
"We have 10 seniors and each one of them brought their 'A' game for us," Wiejak said. "Taylor and Ana are the leaders of this team as the captains, but it was all the seniors that worked hard and improved throughout the summer."
While not experiencing as pleasant a start as Wiejak in his first game with his new team, Portage coach Brian Zofkie was quick to take some positives out of Monday night's contest. The Indians battled back in the first game and then kept the second game close to the end.
"I don't think we played a whole game out there, but we played well in spurts," Zofkie said. "It's a new program and a new philosophy for Portage volleyball. There were things to build on out there and we have to get ready (for Hobart) again tomorrow. We don't have time to concentrate on the negatives, we have to build on the positives."
Haley Snyder led the Indians (0-1) with 10 kills while Kacie McGuire added 15 assists and 11 digs.