The Eastern Kentucky University volleyball team celebrated senior day Nov. 9 against Tennessee Tech University.
The Colonels fell in three straight sets to the Golden Eagles, 28-26, 25-18 and 25-22.
Freshman outside hitter Abby Noll led the way with 19 kills. Senior libero Dena Tekavec and senior setter Rachel Woody paced the defense with 13 digs apiece.
While the outcome of the game was not in the Colonels’ favor, it was still a day of celebration. EKU honored six seniors, including Tekavec, Woody, Kaylin Johnson, Kennedy Wilson, Katelynn Caserma-Kloeble and Clairissa Hankinson.
Tekavec transferred this season to EKU from Florida Atlantic University, but has felt at home at EKU.
“It’s a different experience because at FAU (Florida Atlantic University), I wasn’t a key player and coming here and being a key player, and trying to run the court and the defense, it’s very different,” she said.
On the season, she has totaled 371 digs, including a season-high 28 digs against Eastern Illinois University.
On and off the court Tekavec knows her coaches have her best interests in mind.
“I think the coaches hold us to a very, very high standard,” she said. “They care about us a lot as people, not only as players and us on the court. I think they care for us a lot off the court. They try and help us as much as possible off the court.”
Fellow senior defensive specialist Kennedy Wilson also credits head coach Johnna Fouch with setting the tone for this season.
“She provides more of a relaxed atmosphere so I feel like when we’re playing that’s helped us a lot this year. I think it helped having her as our assistant coach because we got closer to her. It’s easier because we can trust her,” said Wilson.
Fouch was an assistant coach under longtime head coach Lori Duncan before taking over this season.
Fouch has been with the team as an assistant coach since 2015, and she has known most of the seniors since they were freshman.
“Seeing them grow from their freshman to senior year and having them be the majority of the team this year, it’s just very important that they continue to bring that leadership on the floor,” Fouch said.
With so many seniors that play in every position, Fouch was able to use that to have a smooth transition from assistant to head coach this season.
“They saw a very different side of me as being their assistant than the head so it was easier for them to grasp what I was trying to get at them, and they latched on really easily,” she said. “They saw my vision and went with it and they knew exactly what I wanted and they were able to help the younger players come in and know what to expect.”
Both players acknowledge the spirit of the game is something they will miss after they graduate.
“I’m going to miss the energy on the court and miss everyone’s personalities and having fun together as a team,” Tekavec said.
Wilson added, “The feeling of winning or when someone gets a big block or a big kill. That feeling is what I’m going to miss most for sure.”
EKU will have gaps to fill as their six seniors depart, but the future is bright for each of them.
“They’ve all played and been a huge impact on our team. It’s sad but I know they’re going to go off and do some really great things, and this has kinda shaped them into being the women that they are, so it’s exciting,” Fouch said.