Off to a solid start, Southeast Missouri State's women's volleyball team looks to build off the confidence from their tournament victory. From Aug. 27 to 28, the Redhawks participated in the Bradley Invitational in Peoria, Ill., and won the title.
The team lost their first match of the tournament on Aug. 27 to University of South Carolina Upstate, 3-1. But bounced back on Aug. 28, beating Western Illinois University, 3-1, and Bradley University, 3-1, to give Southeast the tournament victory. Southeast senior Claire Keaton was named the MVP of the tournament and was also named to the All-Tournament team along with senior Kelly Benacka and freshman Julie Shives.
Keaton, along with Benacka and Emily Hughes, are the captains of the team. "As a captain, the whole team is looking to you for leadership and advice," said Keaton.
Coming off a tournament championship, Keaton hopes for a successful season.
"We may be a young team with new players in key roles, but we are ready to take on any challenge," she said.
The team has seven new faces this year made up of the addition of five freshmen and two transfer students. Keaton said the new players allow the team added depth and talent.
The OVC has picked the Redhawks to finish seventh and Keaton looks at this as an advantage.
"I am actually really happy that we have been picked to finish seventh this year," Keaton said. "It means that people see us as the underdog."
In 2009, the team was chosen to finish in third place. However, do to hampering injuries, the team didn't make the playoffs.
"We [the team] had shoulder surgeries, broken bones and more stress fractures than I can count," Keaton said. "It seemed like no matter what we did, we couldn't keep a consistent, healthy six girls on the court."
Keaton and the rest of the team are hoping the 2010 season brings less injuries than last season. This year, the team hopes to win the OVC and grab a National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament berth.
"We have never lacked drive and determination in the past," Keaton said. "But after our disappointing season last year, the drive and dedication is stronger than ever."