Freshman setter earns consecutive GNAC honors

Emerson freshman setter Marcus Cepeda is leading the men’s volleyball team in assists and learning how to be a leader in the middle of the court.

“It’s really weird because the setter position is supposed to be this leader role, and I’m supposed to be telling these seniors and these six-foot-nine juniors and these adults what they’re supposed to be doing,” Cepeda said.

Cepeda won the Great Northeast Atlantic Conference Corvias Rookie of the Week award for the second consecutive week after performing well early in the season.

Cepeda averaged 5.5 assists per set in three games against Dean College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Southern Vermont College to pick up the first award. He leads the team with 125 assists this season. Emerson athletics named Cepeda Lion of the Week last week.

Head coach Ben Read said Cepeda’s presence as a setter on the team gives the Lions more flexibility.

“Having [Cepeda] with Nick [Rusk] returning gives us a little more freedom with what we can do with our offense this year,” Read said.

Team captain and last year’s setter Nick Rusk said he appreciates the flexibility in the lineup that Cepeda brings as setter.

“We’re able to do different lineups and rotations because of [Cepeda],” Rusk said. “It’s nice to have someone to alleviate some of the pressure that comes with being a sole setter on a team.”

The Sacramento native said he’s used to competing for playing time on high-level teams. Before coming to Emerson, he played for Christian Brothers High School along with two competitive club teams, Legends Volleyball Club and Northern California Volleyball Club.

Cepeda is still adjusting, but he is playing well, Rusk said.

“There’s a learning curve that comes with college and it’s kind of funny to watch him play and slowly figure things out,” Rusk said. “I’ll tell him things and coach will tell him things, but ultimately it’s hard to take that into account when you’re on the court and playing, especially during a rally.”

The GNAC coaches poll, released before the season began, ranked the Lions seventh out of eight teams. Cepeda said that the low ranking added extra motivation ahead of conference play.

“We take that as an insult, and we’re going to come out and do our best to shatter that number,” Cepeda said.

Cepeda did not originally plan on applying to Emerson. He had only applied to schools on the West Coast until Read recruited him.

After receiving an email from Read, Cepeda said he saw that Emerson had one of the top journalism programs in the country, which was the major he wanted to pursue.

Cepeda is open to learning, Read said.

“He’s very responsive and receptive and tries to get better at every chance he can, which is awesome to see,” Read said.

The men’s volleyball team’s next game is Saturday at home against John Jay College at 11 a.m. 

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