Last season’s young East Peoria volleyball team has another year under its belt.
For a program that has not won more than ten games in more than six seasons — including 6-26 last season — the eight seniors on the roster hope to leave the program on a high note.
“Many people have grown considerably in their positions or were able to transition to a new position that needed to be filled with ease,” head coach Laura Moore said. “Our competition in practice is challenging every one to play their best every day. My goal is to be competitive in every game we play and take a few surprise wins from conference teams.”
The team lost three starters from last season, including team leaders middle hitters CJ Buzzell and Eden Tornow and outside hitter Lauren Tranchitella.
However, the Raiders return nine players from last seasons roster, five of which are starters.
“I think a lot of teams in our conference are going to over look us the first time through. Our experience has made our returners exponentially better,” Moore said.
Three-year starter Piilani Noguchi is the Raiders top returner.
“She works extremely hard to make herself and her team better and helps to teach the underclassmen what needs to be done the way we want it,” Moore said.
Noguchi will be setting up different players this season but she is familiar with outside hitter Taylor Scharp.
The Raiders also return libero Shelby Frank, middle hitter Jackie Ingold and middle hitter Sarah LaHood.
The test for the Raiders will not be easy in a competitive Mid-Illini Conference with multiple teams returning key players from last season.
Moore said their first game of the season will be the biggest of the season, in terms of adjustments made moving forward.
“Even though they are not in our conference or in our class, they will set the stage for the rest of our season,” Moore said. “This will be the game where we solidify our line up and make sure every part of our game is working. Adjustments can be made, but this will be a great barometer of how our season will go.”
East Peoria will host non-conference opponent Midwest Central on Aug. 30.