Bluejays volleyball preps for fall return

by Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor
Follow him at @ColeSheeks

After finishing in second place for the second consecutive season last fall, you could say that the Bluejays women’s volleyball team is motivated to breakthrough and claim their first CCIW championship since 2013.

File photo   Two EC players jump to defend the net against a serve.

File photo

Two EC players jump to defend the net against a serve.

“Hannah Davis has that as her goal in life,” said head coach Julie Hall, who returns to lead the Bluejays for the 24th consecutive season.

Davis told the Leader that she hates getting second place, “That’s the worst place that you can get. As a team, [winning conference] is something that we haven’t done in a long time and that we always strive for every year.”

Hall’s teams have won eight conference championships during her time at EC; however, it has been three years since she has seen her team reign upon the top of the CCIW. Coaches around the league seem to have taken notice, recently dismissing the Bluejays as the third place team in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll.

“We probably are not one of the top picks with the graduation of the entire front line. So it’s a perfect position to be in. No one expects anything from us this year … except us,” Hall said. “It will definitely be tough to replace such a talented trio [of seniors] from last year and there may be some growing pains with so many new faces on the court, but the chemistry and determination of this particular group is something every coach dreams of,” she added. 

Despite losing three All-CCIW 1st team selections to graduation, seven new seniors return to a roster that is season battle-tested. Among those seniors, two-time All-CCIW selection Amy Schryver leads the way.

“Amy is one of the most driven players we have and pushes herself to understand the game and continue to get better at the control and reading of her position,” said Hall.

Also returning is senior Mel Lundin, who was a member of the CCIW-All-Tournament team last season and fellow senior Alli Rogers was also a member of that team back in 2015.

Hall went on to praise seniors Allie Skowron, Kerry Swain and Taylor Nirchi, and “the drive and growth all of them have shown as seniors” makes her feel “pretty fortunate to have this group leading [the] team.”

Along with that experience, the Bluejays also expect a number of underclass contributors to step forward and produce early on this season. Setting duties will be handled by sophomores Katie Davis and Kelly Townsend, while sophomore Cyle Harrison and freshmen Bailey Brouwer, Taylor Zurliene and Rachel Shuty could all see time as well.

“Rachel is a freshman, she’s coming in and she’s pretty good,” said Davis. “I could see her playing right away.”

Hall added that Cyle Harrison has “really worked hard and is super athletic so [we] will be looking forward to seeing what she can contribute in the middle.”

In addition to the three seniors who graduated last spring, the team will also play the season without Ani Agbabian, who will be in New Zealand for her final semester at EC.

The Bluejays begin their season with the UC-Santa Cruz Tournament in Santa Cruz, California on Sept. 1. They will play their home opener in R.A. Faganel Hall on Sept. 6 when the University of Wisconsin Whitewater visits for a 7 p.m. game.