Although the volleyball team has been performing excellently in previous years, the team has now grown stronger through first-year player Emma Klein. She is ecstatic about playing varsity her first year.
“I would have been happy just getting a chance to play, but getting to start is really amazing,” Klein said. “I was not expecting that at all.”
The 5’10” eighteen-year-old is from Woodstock, Maryland, and attended high school at Chapelgate Academy. Her major plans may be business and economics.
Klein has been playing volleyball for seven years, which involved her high school and a club team.
In high school, she was named IAAM All-Star for 2002 and 2003. Through her club team, Time Out Volleyball Club, her team made it to the Junior Olympic Nationals in 2002 and 2003.
This year, Klein plays the middle hitter.
When she first joined the volleyball team, she was surprised at how her teammates related to her.
“The girls on the team treated me as though we had been playing with each other for 10 years,” Klein said. ” I never felt left out or not welcomed.”
Klein believes that she has the best teammates that anyone could ever ask for.
“They are so amazing, not just with their volleyball skills but as people too,” she said. “They are all very encouraging and supportive.”
Klein also attributed her good experience on the team to the coaching staff.
“Coach [Mark Birtwistle] is a great coach. You can tell that he loves the game, espeically when he plays with us in practice. He is always happy and has a huge smile on his face, which makes it fun because we can joke around with him.
“He is also someone that we can go to talk to if we ever have a problem, no matter what the topic is,” she said.
Klein loves being at Eastern.
“I have no complaints. I am loving college and playing volleyball,” she said. “At some points it has been tough finishing a paper or getting time to study. [But] my professors were very understanding with volleyball absences and stuff like that.”
Both her encouragement and role models are found in her parents.
“They have always supported me in everything I do and that means an incredible amount to me,” Klein said.
This included flying to Atlanta and driving almost three hours just to see their youngest daughter play.
After the volleyball team won their eighth consecutive PAC championship against Alvernia College on November 6, it traveled to Gettysburg College for the NCAA Regional Tournament.
“It was a chance for us to show the NCAA that we are a team that is not going to give up and that we are going to make a statement,” Klein said.
In a win of 3-1 against number two Gettysburg College, the volleyball team made it into the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen. However, the team was eliminated when it lost in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Final to number one ranked Juniata College.
In regards to this season, Klein said, “[It’s] gone great. The team has so far completed every goal that we set for ourselves individually and as a team.”