Setter Eldredge helping volleyball to historic season

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, November 10th, 2021 at 9:01 AM
Setter Eldredge helping volleyball to historic season  by Nate Steis
Photo submitted

EDINBORO - For fourth-year Edinboro volleyball player Alicia Eldredge, setting up teammates is nothing new. 

2,825 times in her three seasons as a Fighting Scot student-athlete has she set up her teammate for a kill. Eldredge has a chance to eclipse the 3,000 career assists mark in the 2021 season, and better yet, she will go for 4,000 career assists by the end of her time at Edinboro. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference cancelled the volleyball season in 2020, allowing for Eldredge to take a fifth total year next fall. 

“I was going to be the only one to graduate and leave,” Eldredge said. “I felt like I was going to regret it if I didn’t stay here for the COVID year. A part of the decision was feeling like I could have done a lot more as a player if I didn’t use this free year I was given. I didn’t want to have any regrets.” 

With Eldredge returning for the 2022 season, the Fighting Scots will return the entire roster. The team currently holds a 19-5 mark overall with an 11-3 mark in the PSAC West. The Fighting Scots are currently tied at the top of the PSAC West standings with Gannon University with two games remaining in the regular season. Edinboro was also ranked third in the Atlantic Region, according to the latest rankings. 

Edinboro has already clinched a spot in the conference playoffs, largely thanks to Eldredge. She currently has 858 assists to go with 245 digs on the campaign. Right now, she ranks fifth in the PSAC in assists per set with 9.75 and sixth in the conference in total assists.  

“We have a very young team,” Eldredge explained. “The freshmen on our team have been so gritty and the second-year girls playing in their first season have put in so much work to be ready for this season. We all kind of felt like we got robbed last season. Our team continues to play with no fear or regrets.” 

The program is also facing their first season without having a full-time assistant coach, which is something Head Volleyball Coach Missy Soboleski and the girls have adapted to and taken in stride.  
 
Former assistant coach Lee Anderson is now the Head Volleyball Coach at Lake Erie College, but he remains one of the more important people Eldrege has met due to the game. 

“I really loved having Lee (Anderson) as my coach. He was the best coach for recruiting and doing the little things. He really did and does care about us more than just volleyball players.” 

As a native of Odenton, Maryland, Edinboro is not exactly a logical choice. The five-and-a-half-hour drive certainly plays a role in that, but it was not out of the radar of Eldredge who found out about the school during the summer going into her junior year of high school. 

“I was not talking to anyone when it came to recruiting. I was playing for my club team in a tournament in Minneapolis. Coach Soboleski saw me play and sent me an email. After a few more emails back and forth, I scheduled a visit. I really chose Edinboro because of Coach Soboleski and how she seemed genuinely interested in me.” 

While she faced struggles of homesickness like many freshmen in college do, volleyball became her escape and safety net.  
 
She expanded on a career in high school that featured four letters, three years as a starter, and helping her high school team, the Arundel High Wildcats, make the state playoffs during her junior and senior seasons. 
 
Eldredge was also named a Capital Gazette All-County first team selection as a junior and senior, a Washington Post second-team All-Metro as a senior, a Baltimore Sun All-Metro first-team selection, the Baltimore Sun Player of the Year, a Capital Gazette Player of the Year, and she was a Gatorade Player of the Year nominee for the state of Maryland. 
 
“I kind of forget about that stuff sometimes,” she said. “I had a pretty good run in high school, and I have been glad to keep it going here (at Edinboro). I think it is a really great thing that the newspapers recognize people for those achievements. It was always cool to me to play against some of the best competition in Maryland in a high school game, and then drive an hour the next day to be at a club practice with them.” 

Eldredge finished her club career with Metro Volleyball Club of D.C., a powerhouse organization that allowed Eldredge to play with talent that now competes in college volleyball all over the country. It also allowed her to travel all over the country to play volleyball, something that helped Edinboro to find her. Now, Eldredge helps coach 16- and 17-year-olds for the same organization. 

Another important part of Eldredge reaching the college ranks was being introduced to volleyball from a young age. Since the fifth grade, Eldredge has been playing the sport competitively. For even longer, she has been a fan of it because of her father, Anthony Eldredge. He is a United States Army veteran who played volleyball while he was in the service and previously served as a volleyball official. 

While serving the United States in South Korea, her father met her mother, Youngae, who has provided the emphasis on her schoolwork and studying for a great career. Eldredge is finishing up an exercise science degree with minors in biology, athletic coaching, and personal training, all while being on the pre-physical therapy track. She intends to begin her studies in the physical therapy route in 2023. 

As the PSAC playoffs begin, Eldredge has been preparing for these moments for a long time. She has always been quick to serve up a ball her teammates can use to score a point. Even when the game she loves ends, she is still going to lend a hand for someone looking to get back to the way of life they know and love when she becomes a physical therapist.  

Nate Steis, Graduate Assistant and Sports Editor | @EdinboroNow

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