Volleyball kicks off season with big wins

EMU’s Jennifer Swartz (11) watches as her teammate Rachel Iaquaniello hits the ball to the opposing Michigan side for a point.

The Eastern Michigan Volleyball team is looking to rebound from its sub-par season last year. While the team struggled last season, capturing only five wins, the return of 11 letter winners and their experience playing at the collegiate level is a springboard for the start of the 2010 season.

The Eagles begin the season under the leadership of head coach Kim Berrington. Entering her 15th season as head coach, she looks to lead the team to their second MAC West Division title since 2005.

“The ultimate team goal is to win the West Division,” said Berrington. Currently ranked sixth in the division preseason poll, the team will look for redemption in what will prove to be a challenging schedule.

While the Eagles remain a young team, they are more balanced and have added more depth to positions allowing them to go deeper into games.

“This year, we have three outside hitters, three middle hitters, and two right side hitters, which allows us to make substitutions if someone is struggling,” said Berrington.

Ashley Mason, junior setter for the Eagles, will play an influential part in leading the team to the top of the division.

“Ashley is doing a good job of spreading the ball around and getting it to the hitters that are hot, but being so well balanced this year, we really don’t need to rely on one person,” said Berrington.

Also leading the way for the Eagles will be senior Jenn Swartz and outside hitter sophomore Rachel Iaquaniello.

The team opened its season capturing the title of the 35th Annual Comfort Suites Invitational.

“The wins were definitely good for our psyche. Having depth at positions allowed us to stay in games. Even if we started slow, we were able to finish strong,” said Berrington.

The Eagles were the only team of the tournament to go a solid 4-0.

Sophomore Rachel Iaquaniello was named tournament MVP and recorded 54 kills and 68 points on the weekend.

“Rachel was steady in every game. She will be one of our big offensive weapons this year.“ Berrington said of the Plymouth, Mich. native.

The team finished the tournament tallying 46 kills in 99 attempts with a .303 team hitting percentage.

The 4-0 start marks the best since 2008, and is the first step in the team accomplishing their goal. Their upcoming schedule keeps them on the road till the end of September when they welcome Youngstown State to the Convocation Center.

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