EOU SPIKERS HOST ALUMNI SQUAD IN SATURDAY MATCH
By Joe Sova
Forget about Eastern Oregon University's 2003 volleyball season, when the Mountaineers managed only two conference victories. That was then. This is now.
In comparison, the Mountaineers were riddled with injuries before last season even started, but this year the EOU squad is healthy.
The 2004 EOU team will be unveiled Saturday when the Mountaineers host an alumni team at Quinn Coliseum. The best three of five-game match begins at 7 p.m.
The Mountaineers open the season with four matches in the Montana State University-Northern Invitational next Friday and Saturday in Havre. EOU plays University of Montana-Western, University of Great Falls, Westlynn College and the host school.
Ryan Platt returns for his third season as EOU head coach. He is assisted by newcomer Gary Vonderohe and Heather Ruhnke.
Through early practices, EOU has been able to avoid the big bite of the injury bug contrasting to last year.
Platt has 17 players out for the 2004 EOU team, including four seniors. They are returners Kaki McLean from Paulina and Garfield-Palouse High School (Washington) product Sarelle Parrish, along with Emily Lee of Aloha and Bina Hegvevt of Poulsbo, Wash.
Platt has bolstered his troops by picking up Mary Branch of Vale, a transfer from Treasure Valley Community College.
Sophomores who are returning to EOU are Olivia Graff (Eagle, Idaho); Jana Brotherton (Union); Jeanna Eastburn (Greenleaf); Kim Marr (Star, Idaho); and Jessie Morris (Corvallis). Kiley Cobb (Weiser, Idaho) is a redshirt freshman.
Leading the list of incoming freshmen is 5-foot-11 middle hitter Aubrey Schneider. Joseph High School 6-0 two-sport standout Anna Yost is on the team. Other newcomers are Johanna Bailey of Kent and Jennifer Albrecht of Dufur.
Platt indicated that the Mountaineers have an excellent collective attitude and a lot of spirit knowing the outlook for the upcoming season is very bright.
"We're very excited, very happy," Platt said. "We have a lot of key personnel who are here and were not able to play last year. They're really good players who will step in and help us a lot."
In addition to avoiding injuries in Saturday's alumni match, Platt wants to see if preseason practice will carry over favorably.
"We want to get a good base, to get a lot of the nerves out of the way and have some fun," Platt said.