Volleyball aims to build on tourney run

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The SVSU women’s volleyball team, which kicks off its 2017 season Friday, Sept. 1, against Findlay, hopes to build off its NCAA tournament birth a season ago.

SVSU’s season ended sooner than expected last year when the team fell to Ferris State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals finished with an overall record of 20-12.

“Last year was an interesting roller coaster for the team,” head coach Will Stanton said. “We had some incredible successes mixed in with a few lows, such as a 3-0 win against Rockhurst in Missouri and two additional triumphs against Michigan Tech.”

Middle hitter and team captain for the 2017 season, Rachel Eisenhour, commented on the team’s expectations for the coming season, noting that the squad is filled with youth.

“We have a whole new team dynamic, only having three returning starters,” she said. “But once we’ve gained some experience, we will get our groove back.”

The team plans to overcome the growing pains and inexperience with the help of returning players such as senior outside hitter Tamara Heller, who a year ago tallied 332 points and 295 kills. Captain McKenzie Schuster returns for her senior season after totaling 315 points and 280 kills in 2016.

“Our senior class is very strong and diverse, and we will need them to step up their roles and impact this year for us to be successful,” Stanton said. “We always set high standards for our program, and we would like to keep the string of GLIAC and NCAA tournament appearances going.”

SVSU will have 11 matches under its belt before its home opener Friday, Sept. 22, against Tiffin. The team will certainly face challenges, but with progress and hard work, they plan to overcome them.

“We have so much upside with this group that I feel we will need to push each other all season in order to be the best team that we can be in November,” Stanton said, “If we do that, then we should be right at the top where we belong.”