Aug. 17, 2012
The Fayetteville State University volleyball squad is sporting high expectations for the 2012 season. After making it to the CIAA Tournament championship game in 2009 and getting to the semifinals in the past two seasons, the Broncos feel equipped to take the next step and snag a conference title. Two of the main reasons FSU believes it can take home a CIAA crown are seniors Ifeyinwa Nwoloko (Greensboro, N.C.) and Joi Emanuel (Charlotte, N.C.). Both student-athletes were named First Team All-CIAA for their performance last season. But perhaps more importantly, the duo has stepped up to lead its squad.
"They have taken huge leadership roles," fourth-year head coach Reeshemah Johnson said. "They are much more vocal amongst their teammates."
As the only two players remaining from the 2009 CIAA runner-up team, Nwoloko and Emanuel have a unique perspective after falling just shy of a championship in every year of their careers.
"It is a really big motivation. Everyone is much hungrier for the championship this year," Johnson said.
Nwoloko and Emanuel also provide the prime example of friendly conflict in a squad full of internal competition. The duo, both middle hitters, will battle for touches throughout the season.
"I'm excited about the head to head competition," Johnson said. "They are both going to be phenomenal."
Joining the touted returnees is JaMisha Jordan (Junior, Fayetteville, N.C.) who joined the duo on the CIAA First Team.
In addition, four transfers will add variety to the mix and strengthen the squad with more competition.
"All four are prepared to step in and perform for us," Johnson said. "The freshmen are also showing strong potential. They will all bring depth and internal competition."
With the senior leadership and the new student-athletes, Johnson expects the squad's chemistry to improve from years past.
"The team dynamic will be great this year," Johnson said. "With the whole bunch of new faces and the seniors leading this year should be fantastic."
The squad has the potential of being lethal on offense, with Emanuel, Harvin and Nwoloko ranking first, third and fourth in the conference, respectively, in overall hitting percentage. Emanuel also led the CIAA in blocks, averaging 0.99 per contest. The main area of emphasis for Johnson in practice is team defense, so the fourth-year coach has emphasized that skill every day since the team reported Saturday.
"We're trying to improve our defensive game, and if we can we will be really good," Johnson said. "But this team will have more firepower and blocking should be better."
The squad is confident that if it works together, it will have another successful campaign.
"As long as these girls can play together and work as a team they can win a championship," Johnson said.
The Broncos host a scrimmage against Wake Tech Community College Aug. 21 before opening the regular season at home against Clafin University Sept. 5. Both contests begin at 6 p.m.