Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Jordan Buscarini
The USU Eastern Lady Eagles volleyball team will begin the new season where it ended in 2020: nationally ranked inside the top 20.
Receiving 66 points, the Lady Eagles will start the season ranked No. 12 in the NJCAA poll. USU Eastern is one of three teams from the Scenic West Athletic Conference ranked in the initial poll. Reigning league champion Snow College will begin No. 6 while Salt Lake comes in right behind the Lady Eagles at No. 13.
“We are so excited to find ourselves on the national pre-season rankings and to have received that respect from voters throughout the country,” said head coach Danielle Jensen. “We will face several top 20 teams in the next few weeks and I’m confident my girls will validate that ranking with the hard work and dedication they put in during the past sixth months.”
Navarro College opens as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country, garnering all first place votes. Miami Dade College comes in at No. 2, followed by Seward County, Polk State and Odessa.
In 2020, the Lady Eagles wrapped up the season 27-9, including a 7-3 mark in league play. After defeating the College of Southern Idaho in the SWAC semifinals, USU Eastern advanced to the conference championship game for the first time in program history.
Alyssa Simmons, Sunny Perry, Avery Best, Kennedy Poulton, Kahea Nihipali and Emma Ricks will all return from last year’s team. The amount of experience returning, mixed with the incoming freshman talent, makes USU Eastern a team to watch nationally.