Bailey making big impact in 1st year


Bryan Bund

Freshman Laurel Bailey goes up for the kill against Alabama A&M where the Panthers won 3-0 in Lantz Arena. Bailey is second on the team in kills for the season.

Kaitlin Cordes, Volleyball Reporter

For freshman outside hitter Laurel Bailey, volleyball has always been her happy place. Bailey said she grew up playing volleyball and has found the sport to be an escape.

“While growing up, volleyball was one of the places where I could be myself and forget about the world,” Bailey said. “Volleyball has given me so many opportunities so far, like visiting new places, meeting new people and…to be here at EIU to do what I love.”

Bailey said when she came to Eastern, the last thing she expected was to be in the starting line-up. She said she knew she had to work hard over the summer and during the pre-season to prove to her coaches and teammates that she was ready to play at the college level.

Bailey has indeed proven herself in her rookie season as she has played in 74 sets, second only to junior setter Taylor Smith. Bailey has earned the team’s second most kills and services aces on the season at 198 and 18, respectively.

Throughout her volleyball career, Bailey said she has played as a setter, right side and libero, allowing her to bring depth to the Eastern volleyball team.

“Learning and experiencing other positions is very beneficial to becoming a more well-rounded player. I have always thought that being an outside was really hard because we have to play front row, back row and block, but by playing other positions, it has given me a chance to appreciate other positions and my own as well even more,” Bailey said.

Bailey said being at Eastern has taught her to become more independent and to not sweat the little things that pop up in her life. She said forming strong relationships with her teammates and learning from them has made her first year as a Panther even better.

Bailey and her teammates have become fast friends, too. Bailey said her coaches and teammates have helped her to tweak her volleyball skills.

“With the amount of time we spend together, we get to become each other’s best friends, and it’s so fun to play with them. I also loved getting the chance to get new feedback from different coaches and to learn to do things different ways to better my volleyball skills,” Bailey said.

Bailey played high school volleyball at Waunakee High School in Wisconsin. Bailey said although her family lives in Wisconsin now, they are originally from Michigan. Bailey has an older sister and a younger brother and a pet Cockapoo. Bailey said her parents, Mary and Dave, have always encouraged her to play the sport she loves.

Bailey said the best advice she has ever received in her volleyball career was to play with her heart, and everything will fall into place. She said she knows that if she gives the game her all, even if she doesn’t win, she learns from the match and is better because of it.

Even as a newcomer to the Eastern volleyball team, Bailey said she feels she fits right in.

“I feel like I bring a different depth to the team. Even though almost everyone that is on the court played last year, I feel like the other freshmen and transfers and I bring a new atmosphere and drive to the team that they didn’t have last year,” Bailey said.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]