For the past two years, Taryn Rumsey was one of the youngsters on the Elmira College Volleyball team.

While the former Mansfield High School star made an instant impact at the college level, earning honorable mention All-America honors as a freshman, she was not the focal point of the Elmira team.

With a class ahead of her that includes Sasha Zavadska, who made All-America each of her first three years coming into this year, Rumsey knew her place on the team.

This year, things started to chance.

The Soaring Eagles have a strong senior class, with five players who all are keys to the team's success.

And, Rumsey is one of three juniors on the squad, but after that, the rest of the team is full 100% of freshmen.

It's that unbalance that has caused a little bit of an up-and-down season for the Soaring Eagles as the freshmen learned to adjust to the college level.

Elmira earned the chance to host the Empire 8 playoffs, but fell to Nazareth in the semifinals. Now, they prepare for the ECAC playoffs.

"It's been different this year," Rumsey said. "Half the team are upperclassmen and half the team are freshmen. It's a 50/50 balance, not a 70/30 balance like you would like to have. It's been a big change for me. I know I have to take charge more. I know I have to step up."

While it is a big change for Rumsey to be one of the leaders now, it's something she really has looked forward to.

By nature Rumsey is an outgoing person and while she at times held back on being the loudest voice in the huddle when she was an underclassmen, now she is letting herself be heard a little more.

"It's a lot different, the seniors this year I have been with them for three years," Rumsey know. "They know me, they know how I am and they know I have proven myself. I am not one of the captains, but I have a voice this year.

"I can't just be quiet. But, the players on this team, If I say something it doesn't come off as yelling to them because they know me."

Rumsey knows that people are okay with her speaking out more because she is an upperclassmen and they know next year she will be one of just three seniors on a team that won't have any returning juniors.

"It's nice, I can say what I need to say and not worry about what upperclassmen will think of me," Rumsey said. "They know I will be a leader on this team next year.

"It's going to be a very young team. We have no junior class really, there's not many of us and no sophomores. It will be a very young team with a lot of sophomores and freshmen it's going to be a huge change."

Rumsey knows next year will be a huge test for Elmira.

"That's the hard part, we have these five seniors we won't have next year,' she said. "We have our work cut out for us. We have a lot of younger players that have to step up. I think they are seeing, it's a lot different than high school. College is a lot faster than high school."

It won't just be an adjustment for the younger players, but also for Rumsey.

She is a second-team conference all-star this year. One of the most dangerous outside hitters in the country.

However, she knows things will be a little different with Zavadska gone. She knows teams will focus more on here.

"It's going to be fun, but it will be a little nerve wracking," she said. "I will have to be on my toes all the time. I have to bring my A game every game. I can't have an off night or lose my focus. I think teams know about me now, but they maybe don't worry about me the most because of Sasha. I will have to really step up next year."

A year from now teams in the Empire 8 will likely expect Elmira to struggle. They likely will expect the Soaring Eagles to take a step back, and Rumsey is ready to prove that won't happen.

"It will be a different team," Rumsey said. "I think a lot of people will think we are done now, that we won't be a huge threat now. But, I am going to do whatever I can to make sure we do well. It will be hard, but it would be great if we could do well next year."

While a lot will change next year, right now the focus is on the ECAC playoffs.

The Soaring Eagles wanted to win the Empire 8 Tournament this year. But, with that tournament behind them, they now prepare for what's next.

"We want to end on a win," Rumsey said. "No one wants to end the season with a loss. It's hard, we wanted to win, but last year we lost in the conference finals, then won the ECAC. That's what we want to do, we want to end the season on a win."