Emma Reilly digs up App State record books


Becca Bridges

Super senior libero Emma Reilly steps up to serve against Eastern Kentucky. The Mountaineers captured one of their seven wins on the season against the Colonels as Reilly recorded 15 digs and one kill.

Ben Gosey, Reporter

Two thousand digs. Only four volleyball players to ever play in the Sun Belt Conference can say they have reached that mark, until now. 

On Oct. 15, graduate student Emma Reilly recorded her 2,000th dig as a Mountaineer. Reilly is the first ever in program history to achieve the record. 

Courtney Rhein, who played for the Mountaineers from 2009-2012, previously held the school record of 1,870, but in the East Carolina Invitational Sept. 18 earlier this year, Reilly surpassed Rhein with 1,873 digs. Reilly did not stop there, becoming the fifth volleyball player ever to reach 2,000 digs in the Sun Belt Conference. 

Reilly said coming into the year she was not focused on breaking any records but rather focusing on the team and how she could make it better. After finishing her senior year in the pandemic and only winning one game, Reilly came back with the goal of turning things around. 

“I hated the way it finished out for my senior year and also with COVID, it just did not feel like a normal year,” Reilly said. “I really wanted to come back and make up for our last season.” 

Reilly has always focused on the team rather than her stats but will never forget the moment in the locker room after breaking the record. Surrounded by her best friends and teammates, they shared hugs and tears celebrating Reilly’s accomplishment. 

“I was really happy just to be with all my closest friends,” Reilly said. “I was really happy to break the record, but I was even happier to break it with this group of girls.” 

Playing as libero, she is in charge of the defensive and making sure the team gets a solid first touch. Reilly knows how to read the game, focusing not only on how to stop the other team but also on how to set up her teammates for success. 

“She’s so good, and she reads the game … She has such a high volleyball IQ that I actually forget that she also wants to be coached,” head coach Matt Ginipro said. “She has always just wanted to be really good, and players like that are awesome to coach.”

Reilly played setter and libero as a younger player, eventually developing an eye and feel for the court from the back row. She felt comfortable and eventually knew that libero was the position for her. 

“I have always been pretty good at ball control. My mom kind of taught me to see the court really well, so I feel like I have good vision in the back row,” Reilly said.

Reilly has built quite a resume with the Mountaineers. She was a part of the team that went to the Sun Belt Championship in her sophomore year. In her junior year, she earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors after finishing second in the entire conference in digs. Now, she is etching her name into the program and Sun Belt record books as she continues to climb past 2,000 digs. 

Ginipro knows how big of an impact Reilly has on the team, as he is now in charge of filling Reilly’s space once she officially leaves the program. He said her leadership both on the floor and in the locker room is unmatched, noting the “huge” hole that will be left in the program once she leaves. 

“Not only from first ball contact but also the leadership and locker room voice part. We’re going to have to try and fill that hole, and that will be a big one,” Ginipro said.

While Reilly is happy she broke the record, she is even happier to have such a big impact within the program.  

“I’m really happy I was able to do that for App State,” Reilly said. “I guess it just means I know I gave it my all these past four years, so I’m really happy to be able to leave knowing I left my mark.”