When ’12 season begins, volleyball to be down six

by Chris Eyer / Beacon Staff • November 17, 2011

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Five hundred twenty sets played, 797 kills, and 1019 total points. These are the numbers the Emerson College women’s volleyball team will be losing during the off-season.

Seniors Alexa Krakowiak, Madeleine Breeland, Megan Kaplon, Jessica Drumright, and captain Katie Bailey will all graduate in the spring, while junior Kelsey Scanlon heads off to study in the Washington, D.C. program.

Aside from Kaplon, who transferred from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010, these players made up the core of Emerson’s 2009 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship team. This past season, the Lions finished as the championship runners-up. Between them, the players have amassed several nominations to the All-Conference and All-Tournament teams.

Krakowiak said that, while she was most proud of the championship victory as a sophomore, every day with the team has been an adventure.

“We are such a close group of friends. The moments where we would get to be silly during practice, we definitely took advantage of,” said the senior marketing communication major. “If you were anywhere near the gym, you could hear at least one of us cackling or out of breath from laughing so much.”

Breeland added that the chemistry of the group was unparalleled.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team like this,” said the visual and media arts major, who added that she has been playing volleyball for 10 years. “In all my years, everyone [on the other teams] seemed a little bit uptight. This team’s nothing like that at all, and when we’re all together, it’s just madness.”

Freshman Katherine Rice said it was intimidating being thrown into a team that already had such a strong connection.

“They were very accepting, and very comfortable with each other,” said Rice, who platooned with Krakowiak at middle blocker. “They really showed me how to be on the court, how to run the plays, and they helped my confidence.”

With this changing of the guard, first-year head coach Ben Read will now have a chance to build his own team from scratch. One of the key positions he will need to fill is setter. With the departure of the starters Bailey  and Drumright, there is no setter left on the Emerson roster. The setter is akin to the quarterback, as all the offense is run through this position.

Read said when he speaks to potential recruits, he focuses on the unique opportunities Emerson presents.

“You want to come here for the academics and the location, and then volleyball is that extra bonus,” Read said. He added that prospective film majors, for example, often look at other schools like Boston University, which does not have a varsity volleyball program, or the University of Southern California, a powerhouse team they would have trouble competing on. “It starts to narrow it down for them to where they are going to have the full student athlete package.”

Read also said he feels the remaining players will step up their games and fill the spots vacated by the seniors.

“A lot of the kids we have on this team could have started this year if we didn’t have as much depth as we did,” he said.

Breeland said she believes the chance to start fresh will make the underclassmen much stronger.

“Our freshmen and sophomores this year were really receptive to the way that Read was coaching us,” she said.

In the meantime, both Breeland and Krakowiak said they are still getting used to the idea of being done with volleyball.

“It hasn’t sunken in yet. It’s weird, I have so much free time I don’t know what to do with myself,” said Karkowiak. “Maybe I should get a hobby.”

emEvan Sporer, sports editor of the/em emBeacon and member of the Emerson men’s volleyball team, did not edit this article. Eyer can be reached at christopher_eyer@emerson.edu. Follow him on Twitter @chriseyer./em