THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Allie Eason didn't have time to be nervous about making her first collegiate start.
The freshman found out only minutes before the Cal Lutheran women's volleyball team took the court against La Verne.
"It was literally like, 'Here is the lineup and you are in it,' " Eason said.” I had been playing in games before that, so it wasn't like I was totally unprepared. It was a good transition for me because I was able to get experience leading up to it."
Eason has made an immediate impact at CLU this season.
The Buena High graduate is averaging 2.32 kills and 2.40 digs per set.
Eason's early production is not unexpected. She was a prime recruit for Cal Lutheran head coach Kellee Roesel.
But Eason knew the competition for playing time at outside hitter would be stiff.
"I didn't come in expecting to kill it right away. I knew I had to work for my spot and try to prove that I could play as a freshman," she said. "I really came in just wanting to get better and contribute in any way I could whether that was on the court, on the bench or in practice."
CLU was forced to shuffle its lineup after senior setter Jackie Russell broke the ring finger on her left hand and had surgery.
Sophomore Jena Chavez is starting at setter and senior Rachel Smith has been playing libero.
The Regals (12-4, 5-1) suffered their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss last Saturday, falling to Chapman in four sets. Cal Lutheran, La Verne and Chapman all have one SCIAC loss.
"I think we are still kind of getting used to playing together," Eason said. "We definitely have yet to play our best volleyball. But I think we are getting there and are starting to mesh together more."
Although Eason has only been with the team for a few months, it was instantly apparent how important Russell was to the Regals.
"She is such a hard worker and a good role model, and we are trying to use her injury as motivation to keep getting better and to do it for Jackie," Eason said. "Even if she can't be on the court for us, she is still there with us as a team member. We are playing for her, and we always keep that in the back of our minds."
Eason is hoping she can do her part to help keep CLU at the top of the SCIAC standings and on track for another postseason run.
"I am always really hard on myself anyway and I don't think I have personally played to where I know I can," she said. "I have still have a lot to work on, but I think it's getting better with each game."