Tough competition to fill volleyball starting positions

As college volleyball season begins, the Eastern Michigan University women’s volleyball has many competitions going for starting positions after the loss of several seniors.

The most notable of the team’s losses is former outside hitter Rachel Iaquaniello.

“Certainly, I don’t expect one person to step up, but we just need multiple people to be more involved in our offense,” head coach Kimberly Berrington said. “I always say that we win as a team and we lose as a team.”

Senior outside hitters Erin Short and Paige Roback are expected to step up this season.
Short and Roback finished third and fourth on the team for the most kills, with 263 and 246 respectively.

Sophomore Alyssa Davis, the only returning setter, will have competition from junior Jill Briner, who transferred from Northeastern University..

“She [Jill] has quite a bit of experience as she started the last two seasons at Northeastern and was all-conference,” Berrington said. “I expect both of them will get court time and I am not sure if we are going to run a 5-1 or 6-2, but we will probably [play] around with both [sets] and see which one is a little bit stronger and go from there.”

Junior Megan Crawshaw will be one of the Eagles counted on to replace the top middle blocker from last season, Kristin Baker, along with redshirt sophomores Katie Krasowski and Kelsey Jones.

“She [Megan] has started since her freshman year, so I think being an upper-classmen has given her better understanding of everything we are doing,” Berrington said. “With her experience, she will add more to our offense. Kelsey Jones has also done a great job for us as she will probably get the nod as the starter.”

Sophomore Sierra Reed was last season’s regular libero, but will be challenged by fellow sophomore Corynne Smith for the starting position.

“Corynne has had a great spring and competed last year for the libero position with Sierra, but suffered a back injury that kept her out for some time,” Berrington said. “Sierra has a shoulder injury that causes her some lingering pain, but both have done a nice job and should compete for the starting spot.”

Athletes were not the only addition in the off-season as Nicasio Paquiz, Jr. was hired as an assistant coach on March 4.

Paquiz was most recently an assistant coach at Michigan Technological University and brings 18 years of top-level experience to EMU.

“We are the last team in the MAC to get a full-time second assistant, so I am thrilled to death,” Berrington said. “We are able to do some things now that we were not able to do before and expand some things in recruiting and video. Most importantly, it is what he brings to our program. He has made the most impact thus far on our defense.”

Schedule At A Glance:

The Eagles begin the season by traveling to Buffalo, N.Y. for the Canisius Tournament, Aug. 30-31, where they will face Canisius College, Hartford University and Cleveland State University.
Their home opener takes place on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. as the Eagles take on Oregon State from the Pac-12 Conference. It will be the first time a Pac-12 school has played at EMU in its 36 years in volleyball.

Two days later, the Eagles travel to Valparaiso, Ind. for the Valparaiso Tournament, Sept. 6-7 where they will face Valparaiso University, Army and the University of Iowa.
EMU returns home to face off against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

A few days later, the Eagles go to Providence, R.I. for the Brown Tournament, Sept. 13-14. They will take on Brown, Bryant University and Holy Cross.

The Eagles return to the Convocation Center for one final non-conference tilt with Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.

For the final tournament of 2013, EMU will travel to East Lansing, Mich. for the Michigan State Tournament, Sept. 20-21, which features a meeting with Michigan State University.

“MSU is ranked in the top 20 and are strong and legit,” Berrington said. “We beat Michigan State in five sets in our last meeting and I am sure they have not forgotten about that.”

The Eagles will also play the University of Cincinnati and Duquesne University in East Lansing.
EMU then begins their 16-game Mid-American Conference schedule at home on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. when they take on Ball State University.

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