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Volleyball News & Highlights

August 23, 2011

Freedom Favorites Ranked No. 7


Courtney Reinhold leads a talented group of hitters into the 2011 season. Reinhold has nearly 1600 kills going into her senior season.

After a season where they enjoyed three wins over top 5 teams, Eastern University Volleyball starts the year at No. 7 in the AVCA National Preseason Poll. Coach Birtwistle's squad will have ample opportunity to earn that ranking as their season schedule includes road tests against three of the top four squads in the poll. 

The Eagles finished the 2010 campaign with a No. 8 National Ranking after losing at No. 4 Christopher Newport University in a five set marathon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles return to CNU on October 14th. After opening the year at the Gettysburg Invitational, the Eagles will take on No. 2 Emory, last year's national runner-up, in Atlanta. Eastern closes out their regular season in St. Louis at a tournament hosted by No. 3 Washington University.

Head Coach Mark Birtwistle's squad features five seniors who have been with the program for the last three seasons. Courtney Reinhold and Maria Horning have garnered All-American Recognition in each of those years.The Eagles are the first volleyball team in Division III history to start the year with a pair of three-time All-Americans on the roster.

Senior defensive specialists Nikki Kummerer and Christy Schlager will join with junior libero Kelly Groff to give the Eagles a solid group of back line players to start the attack. Groff finished with 4.2 digs per set in 2011. She and Kummerer are two of the three players in Eastern Volleyball history to amass 500 digs in a year.

Horning will have more options at the net this year as newcomers Amy Guarino, Lauren Sproles, and Katrina Pisch join Mary Poole, Reinhold, Kearby Benak, and Rachel Wenger in attack. Benak was the 2010 Freedom Conference Rookie of the Year.

Freedom Conference Coaches selected three-time champion Eagles as the unanimous favorites to repeat. Eastern last lost a regular season conference match in 1999.

The Eagles begin their year with a pair of games on Sept. 2. If things go as planned, Birtwistle, who has 497 career victories, will pick up his 500th career win on Saturday.

Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Mark Birtwistle

Mark Birtwistle

Coach Birtwistle has won more than 600 games and 16 Conference Championships as Eastern's Volleyball Coach

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