A conference championship, an NCAA Tournament appearance and an America East All-Rookie Team selection, as well as All-Conference First Team, made for a pretty successful freshman volleyball season for Emily Tanski. What’s scary for the rest of the conference is that she’s not done yet.
Tanski led the Wildcats last season with most sets played, 116, and most matches started with 32. The outside hitter tallied 376 points on the season with 316 kills on the year. Tanski also added 53 assists which ranked second on UNH’s roster.
“Starting as a freshman was definitely a cool experience and a huge accomplishment for me,” Tanski said. “I was held to a high standard, the coaches coached me as if I had been playing here for years and the girls made fitting in and adjusting very easy.”
Tanski was not the only freshman who was relied on this season for the Wildcats as outside hitters Kennedi Smith and Hannah Petke also played key roles during UNH’s conference title run.
Although all three freshmen played key roles, Tanski stood out the most.
“[Tanski] was just [Tanski]. She has the skills, attitude and athleticism to make a difference on the court. She is always striving to improve her game and loves to compete,” head coach Jill Hirschinger said.
With the loss of senior standout Demi Muses for next season, Tanski will have to fill the role as one of the go-to player for points next fall. Muses, the America East Conference Player of the Year, led the ‘Cats in points last season and it looks that Tanski will seamlessly fill her role.
“[Muses] was definitely someone that took me under her wing and showed me what UNH volleyball is about, pushing me in practices and games to be the best I could be,” Tanski said. “She shared her love for the game with me, and I’m going to miss being on the floor with her a lot.”
The success on the court for Tanski is nothing new. The Michigan high school volleyball standout led her team to a 42-0 record and a regional and district championship in her senior season.
Tanski was also a Miss Michigan Volleyball finalist, and was named a Second Team All-American, as well as an Under Armor All-American.
What Tanski brought to the ‘Cats last season was a bit of everything. Her ability to force kills nearly every time she had a good set made her a lethal combo alongside Muses and fellow classmate Smith.
Her assist statistics proved she was able to create offensive opportunities for others and she was a reliable player serving the ball and on the defensive side of the court.
What happened in 2016-17 may have raised another banner in Lundholm Gymnasium and Tanski may have had a great individual rookie campaign, but she still has three years to prove her legacy.
“I’d like to leave UNH with people remembering me as a hard worker. Someone that just went and got after it during games,” Tanski said. “Someone that made plays happen and made the people around her better.
The first step to cementing her legacy in the prestigious program of UNH volleyball starts this spring as UNH has begun its off-season scrimmages, and it marks Tanski’s first collegiate offseason.
“She will get stronger with our strength and conditioning program and get smarter as she matures as a player,” Hirschinger said. “She really focuses on improving herself and her teammates during practices.”
The strong offensive play of number nine in blue and white would be complimented well with strong defensive play, which has been Tanski’s focus this spring.
“Personally, these past few months have been helping me with my defensive game,” Tanski said. “Although the spring has been a time to work on all parts of the game, I think that the back-row play has been improving.”
The work ethic, offensive skill and determination to improve her game, and her teammates’, is what makes Tanski a dominating presence on the court and will surely help create the identity of UNH volleyball for the next three seasons.
Her role may change statistically in the box scores next season but according to Jill Hirschinger, her role will be just keep being Emily.