The undermanned volleyball roster stood at just eight players—compared to conference foe Wentworth’s 17—until the addition of two unlikely suspects around spring break.
Freshman Corey Fitz and junior Austin Pinckney, who play on the men’s basketball team, recently joined the volleyball squad, each taking on different roles on the team. Fitz’s service has come during practice, helping the team get used to other styles of play while they prepare for games, while Pinckney has worked his way into the starting lineup.
Pinckney said he was encouraged to join by other volleyball team members.
“I think it’s a good way to stay active and stay in shape while being out of basketball season,” Pinckney said.
Fitz and Pinckney have given the volleyball team some height. At 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively, the two are the tallest members on the squad.
During the latest basketball season, Pinckney, who said he’s been playing basketball since he was five, helped lead the Lions to their second consecutive New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference playoff berth. Pinckney was first in the conference in rebounds per game, and he said he is bringing that determination over into his new sport.
“I've been taking it as serious as I would basketball, so my role on the team could be helpful toward practice and games,” Pinckney said.
Fitz, a marketing communication major, said he was contacted by Ben Read, the team’s head coach, about helping out with the practices.
Fitz said he used to play volleyball in eighth grade, and he said he knew the sport would be an effective way to train during the offseason because of the similar skills required for basketball.
Both Fitz and Pinckney said their experiences have been positive, despite starting with the team later than normal.
“The guys on the team are all nice and have been accepting [of] me joining the team so late in the season,” Fitz said.
Jared Gross, a junior libero on the volleyball team, said that since the basketball and volleyball seasons overlap, the two squads have always been close off the court, so Fitz and Pinckney have fit in well.
“They are learning,” said Gross, a marketing communication major. “It’s a new game for them, and volleyball isn't a very natural sport to just jump into, but their athleticism has helped the transition process speed up.”
Fitz said the differences between the two sports quickly began to show—volleyball requires a lot more constant jumping, and there’s more patience required.
For Pinckney, the biggest challenge is the difference in the scoring system. In volleyball, the first team to 25 wins the set, so every point counts. In basketball, however, allowing the opposing team to score is sometimes necessary.
Though there have been some growing pains, Gross said the two have been great for the team, and he would be happy to see them back next year.
“They are always going to be in great physical shape coming off of basketball season,” Gross said. “They are willing to learn and have been solid teammates.”