In the 2018-2019 school year, the Eastern University Men’s Volleyball Team became an official member of EU athletics, with hopes for a bright and successful future. In the Spring 2020 season, those hopes were clouded by the COVID-19 virus, which took away any further opportunity to continue to grow the program.
Despite this adversity, as well as the everlasting effects of the pandemic, they were able to return to Eastern in the Fall, gaining vital experience and reps on the court as a team. The team was eventually able to work their way through the many phases of safety precautions implemented by the college in order to practice with the entirety of the team about 3 times a week for 3 months.
This year, Coach Randy Syracuse has noted that the team has shown “…increased pace and intensity…” throughout their practices. However, high-level training during the pandemic has its downfalls. Coach Syracuse notes that “…this causes a level of discomfort with the masks we wore at all times during training.” This didn’t stop the team from utilizing the depth of their roster, with this being the first year the team consists of more than 7-8 players. Coach Syracuse took advantage of this, implementing “a lot of 6 on 6 drills” into their practices, which better prepares them for the matches ahead.
The Eagles have 13 on their official roster – a substantial number in comparison to years past. Of the 13, only 4 are brand new to the team. The remaining players are returners to the squad, looking to continue to mesh the team together as a whole. Seniors Joon Jeong (Busan, South Korea, Covenant Christian) and graduate student Gabe Perez (Miami, Fla., Florida Christian) are looking to use their experience to bring a winning season to the program. Juniors Darren Lopez (Carolina, Puerto Rico, The St. Francis School) and Bruno Vargas (Philadelphia, Pa., Academy at Palumbo) also bring vital athletic talent to the team.
This Spring, the Eagles are looking forward to competing in a 16-game, strictly-conference match schedule. With this being only their 3rd year competing, there aren’t any true rivalries yet. However, Coach Syracuse anticipates his team to put up a strong battle regardless of the opponent. In his words, “Against all teams we are looking to improve our performance over previous years and move up in the conference standings.”
The Eagles opened their season against The Stevens Institute of Technology’s Ducks on Wednesday, February 24.