BY SYDNEY MUSSER, ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Off the court, junior Hayley Dunkel is unassuming and polite under her Susquehanna baseball cap. But toss her a volleyball, and her body of work will speak for itself.
Dunkel’s on-court career boasts a total of 306 sets played, 424 kills, 12 assists, 110 digs, 22 aces and 251 blocks. What does that all translate to? It spells out a pretty clear message, made even more obvious with Susquehanna women’s volleyball’s current season record of 14 wins and three losses.
“We just have really good team chemistry,” Dunkel said. “We have a very different vibe this year. We’re a really young team, but we’re so talented.”
Dunkel is a middle hitter (or blocker), meaning that she’s situated right in the middle of the action during a game. It’s a daunting position, but Dunkel’s teammates wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Hayley is definitely a team leader,” teammate and junior outside hitter Jessica Holm said. “Being one of two juniors on the team, I think the underclassmen definitely look up to her as a role model.”
Holm continued: “She definitely plays her role well by being able to put the ball away during crucial times and continuing to maintain a very high hitting percentage.”
The camaraderie of the team is evident and plays an unmistakable role in the Crusaders’ success. The team-oriented environment was a big factor, according to Dunkel, for choosing to play volleyball. The fast pace was also a big appeal, but not as major a component as the team.
“Being one of Hayley’s best friends on and off the court, I can personally say that I know that Hayley is a very competitive person and always wants to win,” Holm said. “She has a ‘go getter’ attitude and has a true passion for volleyball.”
Sophomore defensive specialist Sarah Paluck agreed, adding: “On the court, she is always there to keep us focused. She is a very determined player, and is definitely a team leader.”
Paluck continued: “Hayley is always there to put the ball down during crucial times in a match, which keeps the whole team energized. Hayley truly stepped up this season. She definitely provided the leadership we needed on the court.”