Despite replacing three of their top four hitters from the previous season, EMU's volleyball women had a season full of new life in 2013. The Royals tied their best winning percentage since 2003 and broke a long ODAC losing skid.
In Coach Jeff Tyson's second year at the helm, Eastern Mennonite had a pair of three-match winning streaks and was 9-9 on Oct. 4. But injuries to two of the team's top three hitters, as well as the starting setter, torpedoed their final record, which settled at 9-18.
"The 2013 season was a year full of many positive moments of growth and improvement as a team along with individual performances," Tyson said. "Unfortunately the season will also be remembered for a few key injuries midway through the season that hurt us down the stretch. The team had the highest winning percentage of the past nine years and we are looking to build on that and all the other positive accomplishments as we prepare for 2014."
An infusion of young attackers to an experienced base helped the women to their great start. The Royals beat Randolph College in a five-set thriller on Sept. 11, breaking a streak of 36 straight ODAC losses, which dated back to 2009. They followed that up with another ODAC win, beating Hollins on the road two days later.
Eastern Mennonite was also the only team in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference to win one game against each of the league's frontrunners in conference play. The Royals fell 3-1 to Randolph-Macon as well as Washington and Lee. The Yellow Jackets lost only four games all year in the ODAC.
Senior middle Rachel Kennel (Parkesburg, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) topped the team with 217 total kills, averaging 2.19 with a .198 attack percentage. D Probst (Willow Street, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) knocked down 2.73 kills per game before an injury cut her season short.
Sophomore libero Katie Miller (San Antonio, Tex./Brandeis) was second in the ODAC with 4.47 digs per set. After two years in Harrisonburg, Miller has racked up 830 career digs and is on pace to break Rachel Nafziger's EMU record of 1,436 career digs.
Jessica Goertzen (Goessel, Kan./Goessel), wrapping up a four-year career where she filled any role necessary for the Royals, ends at No. 10 on EMU's career assists list with 890 set-ups.
Tyson said his favorite moment of the fall was the win over Randolph.
"The most special memory of the year was winning the team's first conference match in four years," he said. "To see the team battle and fight through a tough five-set match was fun to watch. Following it up a few days later with a second conference win made for a great first week of conference play."