Eastern Michigan University entered Friday’s match against the University of Toledo with a 1-16 record, including zero wins in two Mid-American Conference games.
With 3-1 victories this weekend against Toledo (10-6, 1-3) and Ball State University (8-9, 1-3) on Saturday, the Eagles (3-16, 2-2) have started their season over and are headed in the right direction.
“We’ve lost a lot of ball games,” EMU coach Kim Berrington said. “Our girls could come in with their heads down, but we have a team that’s ready to go.”
Part of the Eagles’ success has come with the return of senior Victoria Randolph, who missed the first 14 games with a left hand injury. Senior Kim Jarzynka has also been nicked up.
“We had two seniors on the court this weekend for the first time this year,” Berrington said. “We’re able to make adjustments with them in there. As football coaches would say, we can use our whole playbook.”
The Eagles benefited from the development of their younger players. Freshman Rachael Ianquaniello leads the team with 225 kills, for example.
Sophomore setter Ashley Mason has helped keep the offense calm when the seniors were out. Mason’s 197 digs are second to fellow sophomore Haley Stein’s 307.
“We’re finally playing like a team,” Randolph said after Friday’s win.
In that game, the Eagles won the first game for the fifth time this season. After losing the second, they came out scoring to set up the 3-1 victory. Randolph and Stein expressed how they thought they were good enough to win in three games.
“You kind of always want that kind of mentality,” Mason said.
Saturday’s victory was in comeback fashion. Eastern lost the first game but won the next three, including the fourth game that it trailed 19-11 at one point.
“It’s outstanding, we worked so hard. We stepped it up hardcore,” Mason said.
The Eagles will play Oakland (Mich.) University at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Convocation Center. Eastern has historically dominated Oakland by winning 21 of the 22 matches between the teams. OU won the first match in 1977.