By Fernanda Bartels, Staff Writer

Last season, junior Eric Lucas recorded 309 digs, falling two digs short of matching the highest individual single-season record for digs of all-time. The record was set by his father Ric Lucas 25 years ago.

Ric was a two-time All-American and a member of the 1984 National Collegiate Athletic Association All-Tournament men’s volleyball team.
Eric learned how to play volleyball early in his life from those close to him, especially from his father who was always hitting, passing and setting with him during his time off.

“I wanted to pepper with him all the time,” said Lucas, a computer science major at George Mason University. “Whenever he wasn’t playing in a match, he would be peppering with me on the sidelines. I just loved volleyball from the very beginning.”

Eric started playing volleyball outdoors. Playing grass and beach tournaments shaped him as a volleyball player.

“I prefer outdoor because you have to do everything,” said Lucas. “You have to pass, set and hit. I’m a good all-around player; I’m really good outdoor. I started playing it first, so I just have this passion for it.”

His awards speak for themselves. Eric won the High Performance East Coast Beach Volleyball Championship in 2006 and received the Most Promising Young Player award in the Pottstown Rumble Grass Volleyball Championships in 2007.

After joining the Patriots in 2007, Lucas managed to play outdoor tournaments during offseason.

Hailing from Ellicott City, Md., Lucas started travelling further away to play pro beach tournaments this past summer.

He played in the Association of Volleyball Professionals qualifiers as a starting point for his future plans to join the professional circuit.

“I’m definitely planning to play as much professional beach tournaments as I can, and try to work my way up on the beach tour,” said Lucas.

Aside from his ambitions of playing professionally after graduation, playing beach volleyball over the summer helped Lucas improve his attacking skills.
“I worked really hard over the summer,” said Lucas. “I got stronger and faster. This past summer, my jump went up four or five inches. I came in jumping 32/33 inches; last time I tested, I jumped 39 to 40 inches.”

His improvement on the sand has transferred to the court. Returning for his third season with the Patriots, Lucas showed Head Coach Fred Chao that he could be an option for the team as an outside hitter.

“[Improving the jump] gave me the desire to play outside [hitter],” said Lucas. “Because I’ve been playing pro beach tournaments, I knew that I could hit against big blockers.”

Lucas started off his junior year as a hitter. He is second on the team with 107 kills. Aside from his new responsibilities as a hitter, Lucas still is an aggressive back row player. He is third in digs and second in passing attempts on the team.

“I’m still trying to be aggressive at passing because I’m good at that,” said Lucas. “It’s one of my strengths, and I need to make sure that I’m taking enough court and passing the ball well even though I’m still hitting.”

As Lucas tries to balance his new responsibilities as an outside hitter and his previous tasks as a libero, he also hopes to balance his athletic and academic career after graduation.

As a computer science major, Lucas hopes to land a job in a software engineering company while still hoping to play volleyball on the weekends during summer.