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Hard Work Has Eastern Florida Volleyball Ready for Season

Aug. 19, 2013 - After a busy offseason of individual conditioning, a pre-season of practice in the gym and the swimming pool and work in the weight room Eastern Florida State College head volleyball coach Herb Tokumoto believes his team is ready.

"The players have commented on how competitive it is within our practices to be able to just step on the court," Tokumoto said. "I really believe they realize our capabilities.

"This team has a lot of heart, desire and team chemistry. Add in their skill level, put it all together and enjoy the ride. I believe they will be a force that will impress and improve throughout the season.

volleyball practice
Sara Watkins, on the left, and Ashley Gonzalez prepare for the 2013 volleyball season.

The Titans open the regular season on Friday and Saturday at the Florida State College Jacksonville Tournament. An Aug. 29 trip to Polk State College follows. EFSC plays its first home match at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, hosting Daytona State College on the Melbourne Campus. Admission is free.

The Titans are counting on a nucleus of seven sophomores — six of them returnees — to set the tone for 2013 and make last season's 7-24 record nothing more than abstract numbers.

Expected to provide leadership — and scoring and defense — are veterans Ashley Dills, a middle blocker from Winter Haven, FL and Winter Haven High; Taylor Gembecki, a setter from Fort Myers, FL and Riverdale High; Ashley Gonzalez, an outside hitter from Warner Robbins, GA and Houston County High and Alana Nielander, an outside hitter and defensive specialist from Lake Placid, FL and Lake Placid High.

Also, Micaela Vowinkel, a middle blocker from Carson City, NV and Carson High; Sara Watkins, a libero and defensive specialist from Chuluota, FL and Hagerty High; and sophomore newcomer Brittany Collison a libero and defensive specialist from Lake Placid, FL and Lake Placid High School.

They will be bolstered by freshmen Carol Kiam Assato, a libero and defensive specialist from Vila Carrao, SaoPaulo, Brazil; Arianna Bethel, from Stuart, FL and Martin County High; Mariah Davis, from Fort Pierce, FL and John Carroll High; McKenzie Price, from Carson City, NV and Carson High; Lindsey Pugh, outside hitter and middle blocker from Titusville, FL and Titusville High; Michelle Rodriguez, outside hitter and middle blocker from Caguas, Puerto Rico and Vocational Republica de Costa Rica and Heather Welch, from Cocoa, FL and Merritt Island Christian School.


"We are looking really promising from practice, I'm really looking forward to this season," Gembecki said.

"I know we'll do great things. The strength training has made us tremendously stronger and fit as have the pool workouts. The extra weightlifting and pool cardio makes a huge difference. We definitely are ready for the season."

Eastern Florida competes in the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference with Miami Dade College, Broward College, Palm Beach State College and Indian River State College.

Herb Tokumoto is assisted by assistant coach Kim Tokumoto.