By Will Menser, Staff Writer
Last season was an odd one for the Eagles as they started the season rated second in the River States Conference and first in the West Division, but ended the year with a .500 record. They finished about the same in conference rankings, sitting at fourth out of seven in the West Division. They ultimately lost in the conference tournament to Indiana University East who was ranked 19th in the nation. After the season ended, they lost six seniors and only had one returning starter for this year.
This season is filled with many question marks going in, especially with so much young and new talent. Alongside seven freshmen, there are also upperclassmen who are new to the sport, like senior Alyssa Molden who also plays volleyball for Asbury. This is also promising for the Eagles, as it adds a lot of potential to the group, especially in seasons to come. “We really have a brand-new team,” coach Leann Dahlstein said. “We have a lot of really talented freshmen coming in and a good group of girls that are still here.”
Dahlstein’s goals for this team are the same as for any team, which is to win the conference and get a national tournament bid. “That seems kind of high up there just because of us being so young, but I do think it’s possible.” Despite recent struggles, the team remains adamant in their objective. Recently, on Oct. 28, the team lost their season opener to Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Although it may not be the ideal start for the Eagles, it’s to be expected as this young, new team works out the kinks in their game and learns to trust each other.
Despite this loss, the players are still excited to finally be battling on the hardwood again. “We are so excited to start playing games. It’s so nice to see all your hard work come into action after only playing each other the past seven plus weeks,” Molden said. “We have a completely different team than last year and the years before that. Nobody knows what they’re going to get, even us.”
The theme of being a brand-new team is consistent throughout. Molden also confirmed Dahlstein’s sentiment toward the goals of the year for the Eagles: “It’s always a goal to make it to the national tournament. I’ve been two years and it’s not just about being able to play in Sioux City. The entire experience is so fun.”
Now that the season has begun, there will be plenty of nights filled with action from the Eagles, as they soar toward their goal of winning conference. Some teams may be in for a shock when they play the Eagles’ freshman-loaded roster. The talent is certainly there, but it might take time to see it come to full fruition.