University at Albany - State University of New York


For a team that finished last just one year ago,
UAlbany’s women’s volleyball team is sitting in fourth place
 in America East conference standings as some star players emerge.

Eileen Nicole Rodriguez was a promising young tennis player in Puerto Rico when at age 13Eileen Nicole Rodriguez she traded that sport for volleyball to spend more time with her friends. That decision eventually brought Ms. Rodriguez to UAlbany, where the five-foot eleven freshman is a rising star on this comeback team. "I am excited about breaking the record, this is an unbelievable moment for me," Rodriguez said. "I was nervous to start off the match, but after I got the first ace I settled down and got back into my rhythm."

Two-thirds way through the season, Eileen has broken the NCAA Division I record for ace serves. "She didn’t just break it, she obliterated it," says head coach Kelly Sheffield. Because of Eileen’s past tennis experience, her serve is a powerhouse -- so difficult to return – it’s a marvel of speed, spin and strength. She also was named Baden/America East Rookie of the Week for the third time this season and now leads the nation in service aces.

Alissa GibbsAs for kills and digs? Captain, Alissa Gibbs has compiled at least 414 kills during the season for an average of 3.80 per game. Earlier in the year Alissa was named the America East 2001-02 Scholar Athlete in volleyball and that’s just one of many awards and accolades collected by this senior, scholar, and athlete during her four years at UAlbany. "She is volleyball’s ‘complete player’," says Coach Sheffield, one of Alissa’s biggest fans.

In addition to her demanding schedule in a Division I sport, Alissa is a Presidential Scholar majoring in computer science, with a math minor. She also works part time for a computer web design firm.

With all this on her plate, Alissa somehow finds time to help out with the team’s recruitment. "It’s a lot of fun…and it feels great to have an input on who the next [UAlbany] volleyball players will be," she says.

The team traveled to University of New Hampshire11/23/02 for a two-day event. This is the first winning season since 1998 and is a dramatic turnaround from last year’s 4-20 record.

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