Eastern Florida Volleyball Ready for Challenging 2014 Season

Aug. 5, 2014 - The way Eastern Florida head volleyball coach Andrea Rasmussen sees it volleyball parallels life and vice versa.

So to that extent Rasmussen, who took the program's reins in December, has a plan to get the Titans back on the winning track.

"My philosophy is to provide an atmosphere where female athletes can grow and improve not only their athletic abilities, but the everyday skills needed to be successful in the real world," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen came to Eastern Florida from St. Edward's School in Vero Beach, Florida, where she was nominated for 2013 regional coach of the year.

volleyball practice
Eastern Florida volleyball head coach Andrea Rasmussen (seated) chats with her team during a practice break as the Titans prepare for the 2014 season.

Prior to St. Edward's Rasmussen played intercollegiate volleyball and coached at the club level in Colorado and was an assistant coach at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas for five years, reaching the NJCAA national tournament twice and coaching two All-America athletes.

Accustomed to playing and coaching at a high level Rasmussen brings high expectations to the Titans who compete in the nationally renowned Florida College System Activities Association and its outstanding Southern Conference.

"We will prepare ourselves as best we can in practice, but the best way to prepare for such tough competition is by playing a tough schedule throughout the regular season," Rasmussen said. "If you want to be the best you have to play, and beat, the best. We play a large majority of our matches on the road this season so that we can be prepared to perform when it matters most, at the state tournament."

Eastern Florida plays only seven of its 32 matches at home.

To that end Rasmussen will stress an aggressive approach.

"There is no denying that defense wins volleyball matches," she said. "We will have a strong defensive scheme starting with our blocking. On top of playing defense we will have to be able to score points which is where aggressive serving and smart attacks come in to play.

"Individual skills and ball control are the most important aspects of volleyball in my opinion, so our practices will be structured to focus on skill development and refinement."

To do that she will rely on a team crafted from experienced returnees and eager and talented newcomers.

"Being able to take over in December gave me the advantage of being able to work with some of the sophomores before my inaugural season, I am excited to continue building on our work in the spring," Rasmussen said. "I am appreciative of the opportunity (Associate Vice President of Athletics) Coach (Jeff) Carr and the administration has given me to lead this program forward.

"We are returning some great sophomores who will do a fantastic job of leading us. I think that (outside hitter, right-side hitter and setter) Mariah Davis (Fort Pierce, Florida, John Carroll High) and (setter) McKenzie Price (Carson City, Nevada, Carson City High) will definitely be players to step up in times of need, but it goes without saying that I expect our incoming freshmen class to make a big impact."

Joining Davis and Price as returnees are middle blocker and right-side hitter Lindsey Pugh (Titusville, Florida, Titusville High) outside hitter and right-side hitter Arianna Bethel (Stuart, Florida, Martin County High) and middle blocker and right-side hitter Michelle Rodriguez (Caguas, Puerto Rico, Vocational Rep. de Costa Rica High).

The seven newcomers are Lindsey Whittington, freshman, Sebring, Florida, Sebring High, setter; Caitlin Stoner, freshman, Clearwater, Florida, Clearwater High, libero, defensive specialist; Fernanda Faustino, sophomore, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Northeastern Junior College, outside hitter, right-side hitter; Jordan Hinkle, freshman, Sebring, Sebring High, libero, defensive specialist; Juliana Torres, freshman, Santa Catarina, Brazil, EEB Francisco Mazzola, middle blocker, right-side hitter; Lena Kalberer, freshman, Stuttgart, Germany, Hedwig Dohn Schule, middle blocker; Treasure Ingram, freshman, Fort Pierce, John Carroll, outside hitter, right-side hitter.